The Agricultural Nutrient Policy Council (ANPC), which includes the American Farm Bureau Federation as a member, released a report last week highlighting initiatives and progress being made by farmers to reduce nutrient loss across the Mississippi River Basin. 

The report includes informa­tion from 16 states, and the results will be presented at the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force virtual meeting Dec. 14.

During the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a framework memorandum for in­­dividual states to utilize in addressing phosphorus and nitrogen runoff. 

The framework called upon state agencies to bring together academic, agricultural, wastewater treatment, urban storm water and environmental stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to protect water quality. 

The report demonstrates the commitment of agriculture to protect the environment while growing safe, affordable food, as well as the commitment of agriculture to continue to work collaboratively with the state and federal agencies involved in the task force.

“ANPC’s primary goal with this report is to bring to the attention of the federal agencies and the public the positive and focused investment in nutrient reduction practices and programming that has been — and continues to be made — by farmers, their trade associations and the associations of the service industries that work alongside farmers,” said Lauren Lurkins, ANPC president and director of environmental policy at Illinois Farm Bureau.

The report highlights the following efforts across 16 states:

• Farmer-led partner alliances.

• Farmer-led research, education, and practice implementation programs.

• 4R certification or research programs.

• Activation of farmer participation in federal, state and NGO (non-governmental organization) practice-adoption programs.

For example, in the area of farmer-led research, the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council has invested $23 million since 2013 to support research of nutrient reduction best management practices.

In Iowa, a Best Management Practice (BMP) mapping project led by Iowa State University found that between the 1980s and 2018, the total number of terraces in the corn-soy production areas of the state increased by 61% and the land area treated by the practice increased by 81%. During the same time, water and sediment control basins increased by 232%, and the land area treated increased 156%, contributing to phosphorus loss reductions.