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Great Lakes Conservation Assessment Released; Shows Conservation’s Positive Effects

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Liza C. Moore
Foster Swift Agricultural Law Update
November 2011

The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) prepared a study showing that farmers using combinations of erosion-control and nutrient-management practices on cultivated cropland are reducing the movement of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus from farm fields to the Great Lakes. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said "The Great Lakes Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) study confirms that good conservation planning and implementation have reduced loadings of sediment and nutrients to waterways throughout the region. The Administration appreciates the actions of every farmer who is stepping up to implement conservation practices, protect vital farmlands and strengthen local economies. At the same time, we also see opportunities for even further progress."

The study estimates that conservation tillage and other conservation practices have resulted in a 50% decline in sediment, 36% decline in phosphorus, and 37% decline in nitrogen entering streams and rivers. The study covers the entire United States side of the Great Lakes region, including nearly all of Michigan, and analyzes data obtained by the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Survey from 2003-2006.