Agricultural Lands Conservation Advocacy

The Great Lakes Commission advocates for programs that enhance conservation on agricultural lands, with a focus on conservation activities that reduce polluted runoff to the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

Full funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and effective coordination and oversight to ensure that investments made in this and other conservation programs are focused on watersheds with the greatest conservation needs, improve water quality and deliver other environmental benefits. Additionally, the Natural Resources Conservation Service should collaborate with other federal agencies and the Great Lakes states to coordinate Farm Bill conservation programs with other water quality programs to support state priorities and regional initiatives related to environmental restoration and water quality protection.

To be determined

Soil erosion and runoff of nutrients, fertilizers and other chemicals from agricultural lands can pollute rivers and streams and contribute to harmful algal blooms, such as those impacting Lake Erie. The 2014 Farm Bill created a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to support locally-led conservation projects and prioritized the Great Lakes as a Critical Conservation Area with a focus on actions to prevent algal blooms. The Great Lakes states, agricultural producers, county soil and water districts, conservation groups, and other partners are using the RCPP to target and enhance investments in conservation practices that reduce nutrient pollution entering our region’s most heavily-impacted areas, such as Western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and the Lower Fox River and Green Bay. The Lake Erie states and the Province of Ontario have committed to reduce phosphorus introduced to western and central Lake Erie by 40 percent by 2025. Continued effort is needed to prioritize conservation investments and other activities in watersheds with the greatest needs (e.g., those that contribute the largest phosphorus loads or that have significant agricultural operations not active in conservation programs) and to coordinate these efforts with other NRCS initiatives and related federal programs (e.g., the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative).

For More Information

Matt Doss
Policy Director
Great Lakes Commission
[email protected]

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