Illinois Farm Bureau files motion to intervene in Mississippi River Basin lawsuit

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB), in addition to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), 14 other state Farm Bureau organizations and 16 other national and regional agricultural organizations, filed a motion Tuesday, May 8, seeking to intervene in a lawsuit that could further complicate farmers' ability to manage their farms.

Gulf Restoration Network, et al. v. Jackson, which seeks to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to override existing state water quality standards with federal standards expressed as numeric limits on nutrients, could lead to more costly and stringent limits on nutrient runoff in the 31-state Mississippi River Basin.

"Any court order requiring EPA to issue new numeric standards and total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) would directly affect the livelihood and productive capabilities of Farm Bureau members by increasing the costs associated with developing and implementing nutrient management plans," said IFB President Philip Nelson in a declaration submitted on behalf of IFB.

Currently, the Clean Water Act stipulates that states may use either narrative or numeric standards as a method for determining water quality. Along the Mississippi River Basin, most states employ narrative standards, which state that no nutrients may occur at levels that cause a harmful imbalance of aquatic population.

To help insure that water quality is maintained, Illinois farmers work with state agencies and organizations to manage nutrient runoff, Nelson said.

"Illinois Farm Bureau's member farms implement nutrient management plans to comply with the requirements of their point source permits," Nelson said. "Illinois Farm Bureau livestock or poultry member farms that do not hold permits for point source discharges nonetheless implement nutrient management plans pursuant to state laws to limit runoff. Along with the Farm Bureau, member farms in Illinois that produce only row crops work closely with the University of Illinois to help ensure that fertilizer is applies in a manner that maximizes production while minimizing nutrient losses."

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization controlled by farmers who join through their County Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 420,500 and a voting membership of 82,973. IFB represents two out of three Illinois farmers.