Taxpayers spent nearly $125 million last year to clean up Minnesota lakes, streams and groundwater contaminated by farming, according to a Star Tribune analysis of state and federal budget data that highlight agriculture’s increasingly prominent role as a source of water pollution.
That total amounts to more than half the annual budget of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and it helps explain a contentious debate emerging across the state over agriculture and the environment. In large parts of southern Minnesota, half the rivers and lakes are often unsafe for swimming and fishing, according to a state survey published this year.
The sum also underscores how Minnesota’s environmental efforts often work at cross purposes with farm policy. Last year the federal government provided Minnesota farmers with more than $600 million in subsidies. While that figure pales next to the global market forces that shape the state’s $19 billion farm economy, many of those incentives are specifically linked to the intensive row-crop agriculture often implicated in rural water contamination.
State officials now worry that Minnesota may never catch up with the much larger national and international forces that drive agriculture and its impact on water.
Click this link to view the full article: Star Tribune