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Administrator Pruitt Announces $2 Million in Water Quality Grants

05/31/2018
Contact Information: 

Clarksdale, Miss.  – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt joined over 50 farmers and landowners to announce two Gulf of Mexico Program grants totaling $2 million. He also toured Big River Farms and met with members of Mississippi agriculture community to discuss pollinator health and water quality.  

“This funding will empower those on the ground in the states to improve water quality and crop production in the Mississippi River Basin,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is committed to working cooperatively with our state and local partners to support American agriculture and protect our vital water resources.”  

Administrator Pruitt, joined by EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn, presented the B.F. Smith Foundation and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship with grants, each $1 million. These grants will go towards projects that demonstrate innovative monitoring systems that will measure and report field scale water and nutrient dynamics to the farmer in support of informed crop management decisions throughout the Delta region. Also, the projects take a multi-stakeholder approach to improve surface waters in Iowa and ultimately the Mississippi River Basin.

Following the grant announcement, Administrator Pruitt and members of the Mississippi agriculture community, toured Big River Farms in Bobo, Miss. During the tour of a soybean field, Administrator Pruitt and members of the Mississippi agriculture community and discussed a variety of pollinator issues and water quality projects in the area and the impact it has on agricultural systems.

“Mississippi farmers and ranchers are the backbone of our economy. Today’s grants provide the necessary support from Administrator Pruitt and our federal partners as we work together to improve our state’s water quality, strengthen agriculture, and protect the environment,” said Governor Phil Bryant (R-Miss).

“Mississippi’s farmers rely upon the latest technology and research to improve their production processes, lower prices for consumers, and stay competitive in a global market,” said Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss). “These grants from the Environmental Protection Agency will help the B.F. Smith Foundation, Delta Council, and others to develop farming methods that will improve water quality and increase profitability for hundreds of farmers in the Mississippi Delta. I extend my personal thanks to Administrator Pruitt for his leadership and for making the trip to Mississippi to present these important awards.”

“Mississippi farmers know successful agricultural production relies on good stewardship of our land and water resources. This EPA grant will support efforts in the Mississippi Delta to find practices to help increase yield while promoting practices that will benefit the environmental overall,” said U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.). “I appreciate the cooperative nature of this award and thank Administrator Pruitt for his support of farmers in our state.”

“It is encouraging to farmers and all of the allied agricultural businesses in this country to know that Administrator Pruitt is focused on important issues that effect this industry,” said Delta Farmers Advocating Resource Management Chairman Dan Branton. “Spending time ‘in-the-field’ with real farmers on working lands is the only way to truly understand some of the environmental issues this industry faces.”

Background:

The Clean Water Act provides authority and resources that are essential to protecting water quality in the Gulf of Mexico and larger Mississippi River Basin. EPA’s regional offices and the Gulf of Mexico Program work with states to continue to maximize the efficiency and utility of water quality monitoring efforts for local managers by coordinating and standardizing state and federal water quality data collection activities in the Gulf region. Enhanced monitoring and research is needed in the Gulf Coast region to make data more readily available.

The B.F. Smith Foundation was awarded a grant for the Yazoo River Basin project. The project will demonstrate a successful cover crop minimum tillage production system and evaluate the agronomic, economic, and environmental benefits. An innovative monitoring system will measure and report field scale water a nutrient dynamic to the farmer, which will support better informed crop management decisions. This project will provide data demonstrating greater than five percent reductions in sediment, nitrogen, or phosphorous through the implementation of cover crop minimal tillage systems on a minimum of 15 farms and 800 acres annually.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was awarded a grant for the Iowa Transforming Drainage Demonstration project. It will advance knowledge and implementation of alternative drainage systems in the Des Moines River Basin to improve downstream water quality, while also improving crop production and yield stability, sustainably secure and manage irrigation water, and enhance wildlife habitat. This project will provide agricultural producers, service providers, and other decision-makers, with access to the research-based information they need to make informed decisions by integrating these practices into their operations for increased resilience of crop production and improved water quality.