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Your view: Errors in article

Monday, July 2, 2007

Dear Editor

As a farmer, it was disappointing to read the headline "Ag Related Pollution Is A Problem In Missouri" in the Monday June 25 Standard Democrat.

While there may have been an element of truth in this article, the picture painted is broadly mistaken and puts agriculture in an undeservedly bad light.

There are some errors in this article. It is stated that there are 13,000 miles of impaired streams in Missouri. If you will check the Missouri Department of Natural Resources 2006 Water Quality Report, it states that those are the miles of NON-impaired waters. Only 1062 miles are impaired, and less than 1% of those streams were impaired by agricultural row crop pollution. None of them were in southeast Missouri.

The article makes it appear that agriculture has impaired 19,500 acres of lakes, whenever the report actually states that only 29 of those acres are impaired by agriculture.

The Missouri DNR says that bootheel waters may be polluted. But do you know why they suspect it may be polluted? The answer is, because the bootheel

was once a swamp but is no longer a swamp. In my opinion, this is a land-

use issue. Not a pollution issue. Almost 100 years ago, a decision was made to drain the great swamps of southeast Missouri. The lands shouldn't be determined to be polluted just because they are no longer the way they once were. We should hang our hats on sound science and proper land use, not what might be.

In a frustrating, hypocritical move, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers testified on May 16th before the Missouri Clean Water Commission that they have determined the Missouri River to be sediment deficient. In order to improve habitat for the Pallid Sturgeon (an endangered fish found in the Missouri river), they are dumping 5.4 million tons of river bottom soils into the river while trying to create shallow water chutes, simply because it is cheaper than putting the dirt somewhere else. They are doing this with the knowledge and consent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

They have 21 similar projects. The amount of soil dumped on this one project is the equivalent of 2 tons of soil from every acre of corn in the state of Missouri. These are soils that have been farmed, and they contain all of the same nutrients that farmers are accused of allowing into streams of Missouri. Does this sound like our scientists are truly concerned about a nutrient problem in Missouri's streams and rivers?

The final straw to me, as a corn farmer, is the statement "with increased acres being devoted to corn production, the potential for increased pollution is looming". Again, this is simply a scare tactic not supported by facts. Sedimentation, soil erosion, and agricultural pollution have been declining rapidly for years due to improved practices and new technology employed by farmers. In order to ensure that this land is preserved for our future generations, this trend will continue as corn farmers strive to meet the world's needs for food, feed and fuel.

Respectfully submitted,

Mike Geske

Farmer from Matthews, Mo