Future Shock for Farmers

by Virginia Fairweather, Editor; Civil Engineering—ASCE, 345 East 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1988, Vol. 58, Issue 2, Pg. 78-79

Document Type: Feature article


An expert panel of water and agricultural practices specialists met and predicted how the nation should and might deal with problems associated with nonpoint pollution sources, especially those from farming. They see federal regulations in the near future, and an end to the agricultural exemption from the current provisions of the Clean Water Act. Paying for the cleanup associated with pollution caused by fertilizers and pesticides will be costly and farmers are ill-equipped to pay. The idea of a superfund based on taxes on food seems unlikely, but farming practices could be extensively modified to reduce the use of potentially harmful substances. The use of pesticides could be refined as well as the use of fertilizers. Biotechnology could develop strains of plants resistant to certain pests, and therefore needing fewer pesticides or lower doses. New crops might also require less fertilizer. Groundwater protection is a national priority, or should be, and another possibility might be federal subsidies or penalties applied to farmers to comply with new regulations. The chemical industry, which depends on agriculture, might also help fund programs to educate farmers about new practices to keep agriculture safe and productive. Nonpoint sources of pollution, other than from agriculture, are also likely to be regulated soon, the panel concluded.

Subject Headings: Nonpoint pollution | Fertilizers | Pesticides | Agriculture | Water pollution | Irrigation water | Federal government | Clean Water Act

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