With Costco chicken plant set to open, Nebraskans want more oversight of poultry farms

The arrival of a Costco chicken processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, spurred the introduction of the state’s first industrial chicken farms in 2018. With the plant set to begin operations after Labor Day, some residents are pushing for stronger — or any — oversight of large poultry farms in the state.(No paywall)

Trump announces plan to roll back WOTUS rule

President Trump announced a plan to roll back Obama-era clean water regulations that aimed to protect rivers and streams from agricultural runoff and other pollutants. It will remove vast wetlands and thousands of miles of waterways from federal protection.

High costs for small towns to remove nitrate from drinking water

Some 1,700 U.S. communities have worrisomely high levels of nitrate in their water supplies, and two-thirds of those communities, serving more than 3 million people, have no treatment system to remove it, said an Environmental Working Group report released today.

FERN Q&A: Beaver-created wetlands could be a farmer’s best friend

In his new book, Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, FERN contributor Ben Goldfarb makes the case that this widely vilified rodent, which was trapped nearly out of existence in the U.S., is not only making a comeback but could play a major role in mitigating the effects of climate change and other problems afflicting farmers. (No paywall)

Signup starts today for high-priority land-stewardship projects

The USDA says there is now enough room in the Conservation Reserve that, for the first time in months, it will accept applications for high-priority stewardship projects, such as filter strips, that prevent erosion and maintain water quality on fragile land. Enrollment runs from today through Aug. 17 for the practices, which require comparatively small amounts of land.

Iowa state senator calls for CAFO moratorium

Iowa State Sen. David Johnson this week introduced a suite of 15 bills that would together increase oversight of animal confinement operations in the state. Johnson is calling for a moratorium on building or expanding concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, until the state’s water quality improves, reports the Des Moines Register.

Action on farm runoff is needed to protect quality of rural tap water, says EWG

"Simple and familiar conservation practices, if applied in the right places," are key to reducing worrisome levels of nitrates and other types of farm runoff in the drinking water of rural communities, says the Environmental Working Group. In a report, "Trouble in farm country," the green group said stewardship of all working land should be a requirement for growers who want farm and crop insurance subsidies.

Storm Lake Times wins Pulitzer for editorials challenging Big Ag in Iowa

Art Cullen, co-owner of the Storm Lake Times, published twice a week in northwestern Iowa, won the Pulitzer Prize "for editorials fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa." The editorials criticized county officials for letting agricultural interests dictate their response to a lawsuit by the Des Moines Water Works over nutrient runoff and held agriculture responsible for polluted waters.

Iowa Supreme Court rules out damages in Des Moines water-quality lawsuit

Environmentalists fear state and local officials will feel less urgency to improve water quality now that the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled drainage districts are immune from damage claims, said the Des Moines Register. The court ruling affects a federal lawsuit, expected to go to trial in Sioux City in June, by the Des Moines Water Works that blames drainage districts in three counties in northwestern Iowa for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon River.