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Gulf of Maine Times

Vol. 2, No. 3

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Gulf of Maine Times

Fall 1998 - Volume 2, Number 3

Cultivating water pollution control on farms in Gulf

By Suzy Fried

Image: Livestock are a major contributor to water pollution that is generated by farms and that can affect nearby rivers. Keeping cattle and other animals away from streams and wetlands is a start. Farmers are encouraged to use such measures, called best management practices (BMPs), to address a variety of pollution sources on their farms. Gulf of Maine - Few creatures look as innocuous as a dairy cow, yet the dewy-eyed beasts are among the major causes of water pollution that originates on farms and affects watersheds in the Gulf of Maine region.

To prevent Bossie and other agriculture-related factors from damaging nearby and downstream waters, US and Canadian farmers, farm-related business associations, provincial, state, and federal government agencies, agricultural lobbyist groups, and environmental organizations are collaborating to find and correct existing water pollution problems and prevent future ones.

This spider's web of organizations offers information and technical assistance to farmers in implementing best management practices (BMPs), environmentally-minded methods for operating a farm. BMPs encompass measures from using pesticides appropriately to controlling where animals are allowed to graze. Many of the groups also help link farmers with funding for water pollution control projects.

"There's been a huge investment in conservation by America's farmers," said Mark Maslyn, Deputy Executive Director of the Washington, DC office of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a lobbying group that holds training sessions for farmers on controlling pollution. "A lot of this is education. People who were farming the way their dad and granddad did are now having to learn new ways. It's getting people to understand how what they do affects their watershed," he observed.