The latest report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hypoxia Task Force concludes farmers and ranchers are making progress in reducing nitrogen runoff in the Mississippi River watershed, but additional efforts are needed to meet phosphorus load reduction goals.
The task force, which brings together federal agencies and 12 member states, has set the interim goal of reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the Mississippi River basin by 20% by 2025 and by 45% by 2035. The latest data indicates states have already met the 20% reduction goal for nitrogen, but total phosphorus loads have increased.
Courtney Briggs, senior director of government affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said as part of the task force’s work, it is important to explore the science explaining why nitrogen and phosphorus are behaving differently in the environment. “We need to follow the research on identifying natural sources of phosphorus that are contributing to [phosphorus] loads, such as stream bank erosion,” Briggs said.
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