Overview: On April 12, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its examination of water pollution created by "poor farming practices." According the EWG, "The only solution to preserve clean water is to tackle the problem of polluted agricultural runoff at the source."
EWG: Poor Farming Practices Foul Drinking Water at the Source. To read the report, click here.
Our view: USFRA believes our farmers practice good stewardship and care about their environment, and the EWG agrees stating, "Many American farmers engage in responsible land and water stewardship." Yet, the organization wants to increase regulations.
From the report:
For far too long, governments and water utilities have paid scant attention to the problem of source water pollution, especially from agricultural sources. They have focused instead on strategies for treating contaminated water to make it safe for human use. Unfortunately, this approach is ultimately ineffective, self-defeating and far too costly to be sustainable. The only reasonable alternative is to prevent the problem in the first place by preventing contamination of source water."
Farmers follow guidelines, designated by their state, for applying manure and other organic matter to the soil. Additionally, farmers have no benefit of using excess nitrogen on their cropland, with nitrogen being one of the most costly inputs. Most farmers have improved their conversation practices through soil testing - in an effort to prescribe fertilizer needs based on each acre's needs, replenish the ground's nutrients and reduce costs. Additionally, many farmers use GPS to apply fertilizer, using a variable rate system to apply only the amount of fertilizer needed for each acre.
In 2010, U.S. farmers grew 87 percent more corn using 4 percent fewer nutrients than they did in 1980. This is a direct result of new technologies, advanced management practices and proactive stewardship.
Take a look at what one of our farmers said about environmental stewardship on our Facebook page:
"Maintain a sustainable environment to insure the welfare of future generations. Some of the tools and technologies we currently use will be replaced by even more sustainable tools and techniques, which will evolve from the current practices. Tools, which will help our plants and animals use less water, less fertilizers, less feeds and less energy while increasing productivity. We cannot afford to be careless, or to take steps back in this endeavor. The way we farmed in the 40's is different than the way we farmed in the 1800's and further back. Each era had their controversies, which turned out to be a stepping stone to reach the next level. We have the same issues today. We do not farm like we did in the 70' or like the 40's. We cannot afford too. To use sound scientific research and employ sound environmental practices will be necessary to reach the level needed to feed the challenge of the next generation. We cannot go backwards."
Farmers and ranchers raise your voices and share your stories of improved environmental practices on USFRA's Facebook page and website. Share stories about your farms or ranches and information about this study on your social media outlets. You can also send us your stories, videos or pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll post your stories of continuous improvement, benefiting the land and your communities on our Facebook page and website.
Additional information on the EWG's report:
Nitrogen Guideline example:
Videos from Real Farmers practicing good stewardship: