Farmers need to be heard

West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.: Here in west central Minnesota lies some of the richest and most productive farmland in America. The Minnesota River and other rivers flow through it into the Mississippi River basin. At the southern end of the Mississippi River is the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, there is a growing dead zone — the size of Connecticut — that is incapable of supporting sealife.

Environmental Protection Agency officials announced Wednesday that the United States is falling short of its goal to sufficiently address Mississippi River pollution. Minnesota and 11 other states along the river will need to accelerate their efforts to cut pollution in this watershed, they said.

The Gulf of Mexico is a long way from west central Minnesota, but this continuing environmental problem is not going away and will impact our region, especially our agriculture sector.

Minnesota has taken its role of the headwaters state seriously and is setting ambitious goals to help address river water pollution sources, along the Minnesota and Mississippi River watersheds.

The state faces a challenging goal of changing land management practices across the millions of ag land in our region and Minnesota.

It is important for farmers and their leaders to be part of the discussion and potential solutions as the state addresses this issue.

Thus, the state must help develop the critical research to find better methods that help reduce all pollution sources, which in turn can make a private-business farmer’s investment worthwhile.

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