Soils & Agriculture

America’s farms and ranches provide food, fuel, and fiber for a growing population, but this productivity often comes with environmental costs: Fertilizer and pesticides running into your local creek or favorite fishing hole. Fewer waterfowl – and more flooding – due to drained wetlands and plowed-up grasslands. Blankets of algae cover lakes large and small. Chances are that you’ve seen agriculture’s impact firsthand.

The Izaak Walton League has been involved in agriculture policy since 1937, when we called for a national program to retire fields in mountainous areas from agricultural use. We’ve come a long way since then in understanding the impact of our agricultural system on soil, waters, and wildlife – and how to lessen those impacts. With your help, we can promote conservation in agriculture policy and on-the-ground practices.

​Solutions

Farmers Market in Alexandria, VA. Photo credit: Lance Cheung/USDA.

Local

State and federal regulations may seem like a lengthy, jumbled mess of words on paper, but these are real programs and policies that affect real people. Talking with conservation-minded producers in your backyard is one of the best strategies to build a strong, informed network on agriculture policy issues.

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buffer strip planted on a stream in Iowa

State

States are great laboratories for innovative conservation policies. From stream-side buffers to strategies aimed at reducing nutrient pollution, state policies are one of the best ways effect change on the agricultural landscape. There are also opportunities to influence state-level implementation of national policies.

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Wheat farm in Minnesota. Photo credit: USDA.

​National

Most national agriculture policy – including conservation – stems from the Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill provides more than $57 billion for conservation over 10 years. But that won’t stop Congress from cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from these programs each year. We need your help to ensure farmers have the resources they need to protect natural resources.

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Related Reading

Policy Pulse: NRCS Allowed Prairie Pothole Drainage in North Dakota

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service office in North Dakota improperly changed its wetland conservation policy, which reduced the total acreage of wetlands eligible for protection in that state by an estimated 75 percent!

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Digging Into the Mining Debate

Unless you spend your summers canoeing the Boundary Waters or live on the shores of Lake Superior, the term "sulfide-ore copper mining" may be a bit of a mystery to you. We have a quick primer on the mining process – and possible environmental impacts.

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