The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA), a proven leader in addressing the problems of nitrogen runoff, has endorsed legislation recently introduced by Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., and John Tanner, D-Tenn.
The Fishable Waters Act (S 678 and HR 325) will provide $350 million per year for clean water projects geared towards reducing the amount of nitrogen and chemicals that run off into rivers, lakes and streams.
"It is clear that the problem of hypoxia and high nitrate levels is due, in part, to nitrogen fertilizer use. The Bond-Tanner legislation will enable farmers to use voluntary measures to rectify a problem agricultural producers have partially contributed to," said Larry Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the ACGA. "The combination of the Bond-Tanner initiative along with the ACGA’s Agricultural Water Quality Restoration Program (AWQRP) will go a long way towards solving a serious environmental concern."
The AWQRP has been developed in conjunction with the American Corn Growers Foundation, and is based on the efforts of the organizations over the past five years to recognize and address the "Dead Zone" problem in the Gulf of Mexico.
Under the AWQRP, farmers will be encouraged to utilize soil testing as a means to reduce nitrate levels.
According to university studies, 20 percent of all nitrate levels could be reduced with widespread soil testing. Therefore, financial incentives such as governmental cost sharing or tax incentives should be included in this legislation.
"Soil testing can address the growing problem of nitrogen runoff. Not only is this a logical way to deal with the environmental problem of runoff, but it could also reduce a farmer’s input costs, especially with the high costs of nitrogen fertilizers," added Mitchell.
"The ACGA will work with Senator Bond and Congressman Tanner to include our AWQRP into their current legislation. The combination of this program and the Fishable Waters Act will help provide clean water for generations to come.
"This will allow production agriculture to play a responsible role in solving a serious problem that effects the lives of our children and all Americans," Mitchell concluded.