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USDA Pours Money into Volutary Efforts to Reduce Runoff Feeding Erie's Algae Blooms

Lake Erie near Pelee Island was a soup of blue-green algae in 2015. Massive algae blooms have become a regular occurrence in western Lake Erie since around 2009.
Lake Erie near Pelee Island was a soup of blue-green algae in 2015. Massive algae blooms have become a regular occurrence in western Lake Erie since around 2009.
Lake Erie near Pelee Island was a soup of blue-green algae in 2015. Massive algae blooms have become a regular occurrence in western Lake Erie since around 2009.
Credit NOAA
Lake Erie near Pelee Island was a soup of blue-green algae in 2015. Massive algae blooms have become a regular occurrence in western Lake Erie since around 2009.

Massive blooms of toxic algae are becoming a yearly occurrence in western Lake Erie.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week doubled its spending on programs to reduce the flow of nutrients that feed the outbreaks.

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports that Ohio farmers say they are onboard with efforts to save the lake.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service this week allocated $41 million for runoff reduction programs in the western Lake Erie watershed. That brings the total over the next three years to $77 million to promote better farming practices in the basin.

Since 2009, NRCS has already invested about $73 million in technical and financial assistance to farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin through Farm Bill Programs. 

Terry McClure is a farmer in Paulding County and chairman of the Ohio Soybean Council.

He says runoff prevention efforts are taking hold.

“Most farmers have done something; many farmers are doing an awful lot, but obviously there’s more to do.”

Someenvironmentalistshave urged the U.S. EPA to invoke penalties for runoff pollution.

McClure says the voluntary program should be given time to work.

Terry McClure is a fifth-generation farmer in Paulding County and chairman of the Ohio Soybean Council.
Credit OHIO SOYBEAN FARMERS
Terry McClure is a fifth-generation farmer in Paulding County and chairman of the Ohio Soybean Council.

“We can get a lot more accomplished and not spend so much money on lawyers and spend our money on making a difference.”

Last month the U.S. and Canada struck a deal to reduce nutrient runoff by 40 percent by 2025.

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