BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — After nearly three years of working with farmers and agricultural groups statewide to advance water quality through conservation efforts, the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) today released a report outlining meaningful contributions and progress made, including a 10 percent reduction of nitrate-nitrogen loads in Illinois watersheds.
“Illinois Farm Bureau members, leadership and staff have been working on goals set by the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) since 2015, understanding that water quality today – and in the future – is partly in our hands,” said Richard Guebert, Jr., president, Illinois Farm Bureau. “We’ve invested more than $500,000 in this effort, as well as time and other resources, and it’s extremely rewarding to see the outstanding results in black and white.”
Announced by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in July 2015, the NLRS calls for wastewater treatment plants, urban areas and agricultural areas to reduce the state’s phosphorous load by 25 percent and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15 percent by 2025. The eventual target is a 45 percent reduction in the loss of these nutrients to the Mississippi River.
Accomplishments outlined in the report include not only a reduction in nitrate-nitrogen loads, but an increased awareness and understanding of the NLRS, with more than 70 percent of Illinois farmers familiar with the program; and increased implementation of best management practices.
For its part in reducing nutrient loads in Illinois waterways, IFB focused its efforts on education and outreach; supporting research initiatives; supporting implementation efforts; and demonstrating progress.
“We’ve taken it upon ourselves to put boots on the ground, ensuring farmers understand their role in reducing nutrient loss and the NLRS,” Guebert said. “To that end, Illinois Farm Bureau has contributed $300,000 in grants to county Farm Bureaus for nutrient loss projects and research. Plus, we’ve made contributions to other projects working to achieve the same goals.”
IFB also conducted more than 230 field days, workshops, webinars and presentations to educate approximately 39,000 farmers, landowners, educators and agricultural partners about the NLRS. IFB publications and programming contributed 360 articles in member publications and 24 radio interviews about the NLRS, reaching 80 radio markets across the state. Finally, nearly 19.5 million people were reached with 117 stories about IFB’s conservation and water quality efforts in media outlets across the state.
“When you take on a project of this magnitude, you have to stop every now and then to evaluate what you’re doing,” Guebert said. “Clearly, after reviewing our efforts, we’re extremely proud of the progress our members have made. It reaffirms what we’re doing and gives us the green light to keep doing what we’re doing.”
About the 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 396,000 and a voting membership of more than 79,000. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.
Contact: Rachel Torbert, Media Relations Manager
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