42% of pollution sources in impaired streams can be attributed to agriculture. Agricultural practices contribute to destabilization of streambanks and muddy river bottoms, high nutrient and low dissolved oxygen problems, and pathogen impairments. There are almost 79,000 farms in Tennessee covering approximately ten million acres. The federal government used to encourage the alteration of streams and fill of wetlands to accommodate land use for agriculture. Federal funds and programs aimed at draining wetlands, straightening streams, and moving water off of property were prevalent. Now, the dangerous impacts of channelizing our streams and filling wetlands have been realized and tens of millions of public dollars are invested to reverse the loss of our resources.
TCWN therefore works with the state and farms to protect our streams and wetlands. We support farmers seeking to protect their land from encroaching development, erosion from heavy use, excessive nutrient or toxic pesticide or herbicide use, all of which threaten crops and livestock water supplies.
The Farm Bill: The Farm Bill is the primary food and agriculture policy tool of the federal government. Not only does it set policy, but provides a variety of funding to agriculture through assistance programs, loans, and subsidies. Learn more about the Farm Bill from EWG. Also, check out this fact sheet specific to Tennessee’s Farm Bill programs.
TCWN is a member of the State Technical Committee and in that role has supported policies that prioritize funding to projects that improve water quality. As a member of the Mississippi River Collaborative we work with regional and national groups researching the Farm Bill programs and policies in ensure effective measures are included and ongoing funding is secured.
Farmers and water quality: Farmland is predominantly exempt from water quality regulations established in both the federal Clean Water Act and the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act. Typically only large, confined animal feeding operations are regulated due to the excessive amount of waste produced on such a small amount of land. Read a summary of farmers’ rights in water quality.
|Farmers Rights and Relevance to Waters of the State (PDF)||145.18 KB|
|Conservation Fact Sheet_TN.pdf||1.14 MB|