What's the issue?
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In the six states that make up EPA Region 5, 44 percent of the land is used for crops or pasture. There are over 190 million animals on our farms. Over 11 billion pounds of crop nutrients are applied each year, along with 128 million pounds of pesticides. Agriculture, in short, is one of the Region's largest industries, with considerable opportunity for impact on human health and the environment. EPA's responsibility to protect environment includes the obligation to work effectively with agriculture, both to reduce or eliminate its adverse environmental impacts as required by the public's interest, and to encourage good environmental stewardship already practiced by many of the Region's farms and agricultural industries.
Why should people care?
Many unresolved environmental problems have links to agriculture, such as:
- consumer concerns about pesticides in food
- nutrient loadings in the Mississippi River connected to the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic or "dead" zone
- impacts from agriculture on the air we breathe.
While we need to care for the environment that sustains us, we also need to preserve our ability to produce food and fiber in economical and environmentally sustainable ways.
What is EPA doing?
Working with agricultural and environmental partners, EPA protects human health and safeguards the nation's air, water and land. Our preferred tool is voluntary compliance with environmental standards and regulations, in collaboration with our partners. Many of EPA Region 5's programs are designed to encourage voluntary compliance, and the EPA Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center provides educational and outreach materials to the agricultural community.
When voluntary compliance does not work, EPA takes appropriate enforcement actions. Limited grant money to address environmental concerns in agriculture is usually made available through the state environmental agencies.Additional funding opportunities may be available through our partners.
What are others doing?
Our partners in agriculture and the environment are responsible for many programs providing financial, technical and other types of support to minimize agriculture's impact on the environment. Support includes technical assistance, financial assistance in the form of cost-sharing or grants, and compliance assistance.
What can you do?
Explore opportunities to participate in public forums offered by EPA and its partners at times announced in the Newsroom. Direct questions not answered in this website, including reports of possible environmental violations to the contacts at EPA Region 5.