EPA Announces $11 Million for Farm-Focused Projects to Improve Water Quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on June 16 the selection of 12 projects to receive “Farmer to Farmer” grant funding totaling $10,951,735. The grants support the leadership of farmers in improving water quality, habitat, resilience, and peer-to-peer information exchange to benefit communities and ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico watershed.

In the Gulf of Mexico watershed, farmers manage millions of acres of privately held working lands. While farmers are working in this watershed to provide the food, fuel, and fiber for the world, they are also managing challenges across the landscape to minimize pollution occurring from a variety of nonpoint sources, specifically the excess nitrogen and phosphorous that can enter waterbodies through runoff or soil erosion.

Excess nutrients delivered to the Gulf of Mexico come from sources across the entire watershed; many of which are from the agricultural landscape. Farmers are often the first line of action in reducing nonpoint source pollution and have developed innovative practices and models to share their knowledge with others.

Many of the projects have groundwater implications as pollution from nonpoint sources can infiltrate the subsurface and reach groundwater, affecting water quality in rural wells and potentially carrying the pollution to streams, lakes, and coastal environments.

2021 Farmer to Farmer Projects

  • University of Mississippi $999,957: Restoring Temporary Wetland Function to Agricultural Watersheds with Innovative Farmer-Driven Offseason Water Management Practices.
  • Northwest Florida Water Management District $959,754: Algae Harvesting and Biomass Reuse for Sustainable Nutrient Reduction in Agricultural Runoff to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Sand County Foundation $997,383: Show Me the Data! Empowering Conservation Champions with Innovative Real-Time Soil Metrics. (EPA anticipates awarding this grant once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.)
  • The Savanna Institute $994,287: Employing Agroforestry to Improve Water Quality in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • American Farmland Trust $853,866: Farming for Cleaner Water in the Upper Scioto River Watershed.
  • Oklahoma State University $877,569: Virtual Fencing to Control Cattle for Improved Ecosystem Services.
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa $979,915: Strengthening Farmer Networks to Improve Water Quality and Wildlife Habitat in the On-Demand World.
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources $559,258: Mentoring for Success in the Beaver Creek Watershed.
  • Kansas Department of Health and Environment $750,000: Enhancing Local Farmer Networks in Kansas to Aid in Nutrient Reduction to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship $1 million: Fostering Opportunities for Water Quality Wetlands Demonstration Project
  • University of Wisconsin Madison $993,585: Cultivating Farmer Leaders and Farmer-to-Farmer Learning for Cleaner Waters and Healthier Soils in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basins.
  • Mississippi State University $986,161: Sensible Agronomics and Shrewd Conversations Support the Adoption of Environmentally Sustainable and Economically Sound Production Systems.