Depts. of Ag, Interior to Measure Conservation Impacts

John DavisConservation, Government, USDA

usda-interiorA new partnership between the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior looks to better measure the impacts of farmers’ conservation practices on the quality of the country’s water. Officials say the information gathered will strengthen the effectiveness of state and federal nutrient reduction strategies while protecting the privacy of individual farmers.

“On a voluntary basis, the agricultural community has put extensive effort into the management of nutrients and reducing runoff into waterways. This collaboration will help evaluate the impact of farmers’ conservation efforts on improving water quality,” said Ann Mills, USDA’s deputy under secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

The U.S. Geological Survey will now use Natural Resources Conservation Service data on conservation work to factor into its surface water quality models, which track how rivers receive and transport nutrients from natural and human sources to downstream reservoirs and estuaries…

“This agreement will allow NRCS and USGS to combine resource management capabilities with science, and will give us the information we need to prioritize the most effective conservation strategies so that we can improve the quality of streams throughout the Mississippi River Basin,” said Lori Caramanian, DOI deputy assistant secretary for Water and Science.

The two agencies say they will protect the private information about individual farms, ranches or forests.