State Farm Bureaus meet with Region 5 EPA

Administrator plans to attend an upcoming field day to continue the conversation.

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois joined other Midwestern state Farm Bureaus in a meeting last week with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp and her senior staff.

Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau’s director of natural and environmental resources, said the “very productive” meeting represents a continued effort to build better relationships with EPA. The meeting in Chicago included officials from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin Farm Bureaus and 15 leaders from EPA Region 5.

Livestock, nutrient loss reduction and water-quality issues dominated the two-hour discussion, Lurkins said. EPA provided personnel updates and provided feedback on various issues.

Lurkins provided highlights of the meeting, including:

- EPA has realigned its structure to bring enforcement and compliance into a single division rather than having inspectors in multiple divisions. Michael Harris, acting director of the enforcement and compliance assurance division, attended and explained his new role.

- EPA has received many applications for a new ag adviser, who will report directly to Stepp. Lurkins said this position remains a priority for the regional administrator.

- The group discussed watershed implementation of nutrient practices and how each state tracks progress. They also discussed nutrient trading.

“In Illinois, we are involved in conversations with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and other major wastewater-treatment plants,” Lurkins said. “They have NPDES permit requirements that are the drivers for why our point-source community would be interested in trading.”

EPA’s Russ Rasmussen is in charge of nutrient trading at EPA, Lurkins said, who called him “a breath of fresh air.”

- Livestock discussion focused largely on how to educate Farm Bureau members. Lurkins explained the pilot project in Clinton County that is bringing “education to the farm gate.”

“They were very impressed with the fact that the Farm Bureau is ahead of the game and working to benefit the environment,” Lurkins said.

Although the meeting is over – the discussion isn’t. Next up: Farm visits and field days.

Lurkins said Stepp has accepted IFB’s invitation to attend a field day in Fulton County in July.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.
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