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Farmers and Land Owners Enticed to Clean-Up Land

There are short-term solutions to clean-up the toxic blue-green algae that contaminated some Ohio lakes and devastated some tourism this summer.

Environmentalists are finding that farm runoff is the biggest reason the algae bloomed in some waterways. Colder temperatures will eliminate the algae this winter. But there's still the threat that next summer the algae will be back. Today, an official from the U.S. Department of Agriculture talked with Columbus-area land users about ways they can balance food production with environmental protection.

A USDA Deputy Under Secretary, Ann Mills, says regulating manure and pesticide runoff is not within the government agency's jurisdiction. She says the USDA will provide an incentive for farmers to be their own environmentalists. "We find that conservation practices help reduce their input costs and also increase their yields, and that's a really important element of incentive-izing farmers to undertake these practices," Mills says. Mills says sustainable agriculture is what will keep production high, while also balancing the economies of other industries that rely on clean habitats and clean water. "As we look in the long-term, we really have to have a healthy eco-system for farmers to continue to thrive, and certainly to provide the clean air, the clean water and the other benefits," Mills says. Mills says these conservation plans are in line with the Obama Administration's Great Outdoors initiative. It's a national effort to preserve America's outdoor spaces. Jen Monroe, WOSU News.