FEDERAL, STATE WATER QUALITY REPORTS HIGHLIGHT AGRICULTURE’S PROGRESS IN REDUCING NUTRIENT LOSS
Two new reports by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Hypoxia Task Force (HTF) and the Illinois’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) underscored Illinois farmers’ efforts to reduce nutrient loss.
The HTF revealed Wednesday that the 12 participating states met interim nitrogen reduction goals for 2025, reducing total nitrogen loss by 20%. The report also showed progress toward reducing phosphorous losses. Illinois is a member of the HTF. Read the full report.
Illinois established the Illinois NLRS utilizing the U.S. EPA’s framework for state-led plans to meet nutrient loss goals. The strategy is a collaborative effort aimed at reducing total nitrogen and phosphorous losses. The 2023 Illinois NLRS Biennial Report highlighted agriculture’s ongoing, voluntary efforts in this space. Read the full report.
“Illinois’ agriculture community is dedicated to collaborating with partners across all sectors to mitigate nutrient loss, and these two reports underscore farmers’ investment in nutrient stewardship efforts,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Brian Duncan. “These findings show farmers’ hard work and dedication to voluntary conservation practices have meaningful, positive results; however, we recognize that there is still work to do to meet nutrient loss goals.
“Each year is a learning experience with more farmers implementing sustainable practices that make sense for their operation. Illinois farmers remain engaged in sustainability goals and will continue steadily working with our partners to protect our land and water for generations to come.”
Illinois agriculture groups will continue working with the academic community, the private sector, nonprofits, wastewater agencies, and local, state and federal government agencies to mitigate nutrient loss.
Efforts in this space include education and outreach to farmers, landowners and the public; supporting research of best management practices to reduce nutrient loss from agricultural fields; supporting farmer implementation efforts across the state; and demonstrating progress toward the long-term goals of Illinois NLRS.
“Illinois agricultural leaders are continuing to dig into the findings and recommendations of the NLRS and HTF reports,” said Kevin “KJ” Johnson, IFCA president. “These reports provide us with opportunities to report on our progress across agriculture, as well as identify patterns and trends of best management practices usage over time, in addition to opportunities to develop new programs and initiatives to tackle key areas.”
While interim nitrogen reduction goals are met regionally, Illinois’ agricultural community recognizes the need for continued improvement and supports increased investment in resources to help farmers adopt emerging technologies and best management practices.
“IL Corn Growers Association farmer members, directors and staff value the evaluation available to us via the NLRS Biennial Report,” said IL Corn Growers Association Director Don Guinnip, who also serves as chairman of the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council. “Without evaluation, it is impossible to identify progress. Farmers also understand that there are challenges in tracking and quantifying information like this, and we look forward to the Illinois Ag Retail Survey results to help us better understand the entire nutrient loss picture for Illinois.
“Each progress report helps Illinois agriculture better understand and amplify the needs of Illinois farmers for support – both expertise and financial resources – to help us achieve the reduction goals. New funding and new support are becoming available every day to power the changes farmers need to make on every Illinois acre.”
Overall, the Illinois NLRS Biennial Report showcases farmers and the larger agriculture community’s commitment to being good stewards of the land. Farmers and agriculture groups recognize that meeting state NLRS goals is a long-haul effort and that there is not a one-size-fits all solution. Farmers must consider the type of crops they produce, the livestock they raise, weather, soil conditions, and many other factors when implementing new strategies or tactics on the farm.
“The Illinois Soybean Association will continue its support of Illinois’ farmers by highlighting the on-going and voluntary NLRS investment, providing farmers financial and technical resources for the implementation of conservation practices, stressing the importance of a science-based, balanced approach that considers impacts to all Illinois stakeholders,” said Ron Kindred, Illinois Soybean Association Chairman.
About Illinois Farm Bureau
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 directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 364,452 and a farmer membership of 75,959. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.
About IL Corn Growers Association
IL Corn Growers Association is a state-based organization that represents the interests of corn farmers in Illinois, maintaining a high profile on issues in Washington, DC, and Springfield, IL. Through grassroots advocacy, ICGA creates a future for Illinois farmers in which they can operate freely, responsibly, and successfully. In order to fulfill this mission, the organization conducts governmental affairs activities at all levels, market development projects, and educational and member service programs.
About Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association is a state-based trade association that represents the crop production supply and service industry in Illinois. IFCA’s mission is to assist and represent the crop production supply and service industry while promoting the sound stewardship and utilization of agricultural inputs. IFCA advocates for the industry, shapes policy on behalf of their members, and provides regulatory compliance assistance to help members comply with federal and state regulations pertaining to agricultural chemicals and crop nutrients.
About the Illinois Soybean Association
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and government relations efforts, while the membership program, Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) and the Illinois Soybean Growers PAC actively advocates for positive and impactful legislation for farmers at local, state and national levels. ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean farmers through promotion, advocacy, research and education with the vision of becoming a trusted partner of Illinois soybean farmers to ensure their profitability now and for future generations.
About Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council
The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council was created by state statute in 2012. Funded by a 75-cent per ton assessment on bulk fertilizer sold in Illinois, NREC provides financial support for nutrient research and education programs to ensure the discovery and adoption of practices that address environmental concerns, optimize nutrient use efficiency, and ensure soil fertility. A 13-member NREC Council annually solicits, reviews and funds projects that fulfill the organization’s mission.