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News Releases from Region 04

EPA announces $3.2 million in water quality cooperative agreements in Mississippi and Florida

08/14/2019
Contact Information: 
James Pinkney (region4press@epa.gov)
(404) 562-9183 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

ATLANTA (August 14, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it anticipates awarding three Gulf of Mexico Division cooperative agreements totaling more than $3.2 million to fund projects that improve water quality, habitat, and environmental education in Mississippi and Florida.

Since 2018, approximately $9.5 million has been awarded to support novel or innovative agricultural techniques, methods or approaches through EPA’s farmer to farmer cooperative agreements. These projects support farmer led and/or farmer focused organizations with experience implementing programs and demonstration projects through collaboration with farmers. The projects will center around innovative monitoring systems that will measure and report field scale water and nutrient dynamics to farmers in support of informed crop management decisions.

“These Farmer to Farmer grants will promote innovative, market-based solutions for monitoring and improving water quality throughout the Gulf of Mexico watershed,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These grants are an important part of our efforts to support America’s farmers in a manner that strengthens both American agriculture and the protection of our nation’s vital water resources.”

“EPA is committed to finding innovative ways to support our farmers and the agricultural industry,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker.  “Farmer to Farmer cooperative agreements will assist in developing farming methods that improve water quality and encourage habitat restoration and protection across the Gulf of Mexico watershed.”

“The EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Farmer to Farmer Program provides a unique opportunity to empower producers up the Mississippi River Basin to better address nutrient effluent that affects the Gulf,” said Trey Cooke, Executive Director, Delta F.A.R.M.  “Delta F.A.R.M. is very pleased to have received funding to advance local peer-to-peer efforts to reduce nutrient loading from agricultural landscapes. This project will be used to establish several small farmer groups or “hubs” throughout the region to work together to identify and solve unique challenges presented by some nutrient reduction practices.”

“Our project team couldn’t be more excited to work with the EPA Farmer to Farmer program to improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin by building the capacity of farmers to support and lead water quality and land stewardship efforts,” said Beth Baker, Ph.D., Assistant Extension Professor, Mississippi State University. “Our multi-state project team, comprised of research and extension professors from Land Grant Universities from across the basin, will be working alongside producers to demonstrate conservation solutions that address environmental issues without hindering farm profitability, and developing educational and decision support resources for farmers and farm advisors to support conservation adoption.”

“The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies/Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) is pleased to be one of the recipients of the EPA Gulf of Mexico funding opportunities that will assist regional partners in the Chipola River basin,” said Vance Crain, SARP Watershed Coordinator.

 “By focusing on integrating conservation of habitat and sustainable agriculture, SARP and its regional partners will improve the ecological condition of critical aquatic habitat by working with local farmers to promote and implement environmentally beneficial agricultural practices. The benefits of these activities will not only protect threatened and endangered species but build a community of practice where local farmers become champions for landscape conservation.”

2019 Water Quality Cooperative Agreement Recipients in Mississippi:

B.F. Smith Foundation

$1,149,813 for Farming Systems Research: Demonstrating an Innovative and Scalable Watershed-Based Approach to Advancing Sustainable Agriculture

Mississippi State University       

$1,088,025 for Multi-State Collaboration to Improve Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico Water Quality through Farmer-Led Initiatives and Farmer-Driven Data

2019 Water Quality Cooperative Agreement Recipients in Florida:

Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

$1,000,000 for Targeted Restoration of Natural Resources though Innovative Technology, Public Partnerships and Farmer Cooperation in the Chipola River Basin

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 Division 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 are needed in the Gulf Coast region to make data more readily available.

The Gulf of Mexico Division is a non-regulatory program of EPA founded to facilitate collaborative actions to protect, maintain, and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region. To carry out its mission, the Gulf of Mexico Division continues to maintain and expand partnerships with state and federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, local governments and authorities, academia, regional business and industry, agricultural and environmental organizations, and individual citizens and communities.

For more information about the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Division go to: https://www.epa.gov/gulfofmexico.