Managing nutrients is complicated and any water quality trading system must take this into consideration, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress this week. Although Farm Bureau supports the concept of water quality trading, such programs should remain under state management rather than federal government control.
"There are major scientific, market and regulatory challenges to water quality trading," said Carl Shaffer, president of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, testifying to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment on behalf of AFBF.
If properly designed and implemented, trading can help make reaching nutrient water quality standards more affordable, said Shaffer.
However, "Achieving the goals of trading depends on having easily understood rules that clearly define what is being traded and exchange procedures," Shaffer explained. He also noted that farmers are deeply concerned about the environment.
"Farmers and ranchers constantly take advantage of new technology, new practices and programs as they become available, to grow quality food products while protecting natural resources," Shaffer said.
Shaffer closed by emphasizing that although the concept of water quality trading has the potential to be a useful tool, in practice, it is not so simple, as regulatory and cost barriers can be a hindrance.