USDA Initiative a Boost for Our Nation's Farms and Water Quality

Wisconsin-based Sand County Foundation praises the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Foundation, which has worked with farmers since 2001 to reduce farm runoff in the Midwest, believes that the initiative will have a tremendously positive impact on water quality in the Mississippi Basin.

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The Administration's initiative is exceptionally well designed, consistent with the strategies Sand County Foundation has identified, and it recognizes the key role farmers can play in conservation if offered the proper incentives

Madison, WI (PRWEB) September 25, 2009

Wisconsin-based Sand County Foundation praises the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"This is one of the boldest and most sound conservation initiatives I have ever seen an administration initiate," said Dr. Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation President. "Clearly the leadership of the Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have carefully listened to the farm and conservation communities about how to improve water quality and other ecosystem services through voluntary, incentive-based programs while enhancing farm economic viability."

The project, which is designed to greatly advance conservation delivery in America's heartland, focuses conservation dollars on 12 states in the Mississippi Basin, during an economically challenging time for farmers. It will improve environmental quality while dealing positively with many of the financial challenges facing farmers.

Sand County Foundation has worked since 2001 with farmers and the NRCS in the upper Midwest to build landowner focused strategies to improve water quality in the Mississippi Basin. This award-winning project, championed by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), is demonstrating that farmers can reduce the amount of pollution running off of their land.

"The Administration's initiative is exceptionally well designed, consistent with the strategies Sand County Foundation has identified, and it recognizes the key role farmers can play in conservation if offered the proper incentives," Haglund said.

In February 2004 the Foundation convened the first "North South Basin Summit" in New Orleans, bringing interested parties from the Midwest together with fishermen and others affected by pollution in the Gulf of Mexico to identify water quality improvement strategies in the Mississippi Basin.

This meeting led to pilot projects in several states that increase the performance of conservation delivery strategies through partnerships between Sand County Foundation, Discovery Farms in Wisconsin, the Council on Best Management Practices in Illinois and the Iowa Soybean Association.

Since 2005 Sand County Foundation has delivered incentives to farmers to enhance nutrient management, leading to better water quality. This effort analyzed the costs of specific management practices and the environmental results of implementing those management practices. Ultimately, this information is used to improve the performance of conservation investments.

For more information about Sand County Foundation and the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, contact Brent Haglund, 608-663-4605 x24.

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