As part of a swing across the West to focus on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield program, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler included a visit to MSU’s Northwestern Agricultural Research Center to hear about some water saving techniques discovered by researchers. The July 24th stop in Kalispell involved several folks from across Montana, including Northern Ag Network’s Andy Schwab.
Schwab was able to catch up with the Administrator after the presentation to hear his thoughts from the new techniques. Wheeler said he was sincerely intrigued by the results, as the team was able to use 5 inches of sprinkler water compared to 10 inches of traditional irrigation application, all while yielding the same growth from the same alfalfa variety. “The fact that of how much less water was used, and the difference is minuscule,” said Wheeler.
The Administrator also mentioned their Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program, that helps invest in water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects. “We’re trying different ways of re-using water, recycling water and using less water,” added Wheeler. A fun fact shared at the presentation noted one inch of standing water over a football field or roughly 1.32 acres equals more than 24,000 gallons of water.
Along with the EPA staff attending the road side presentation, FFA students from Glacier High School and other Montana ag leaders lent an ear to the sound system that broadcasted words of Wheeler. The administrator described how the EPA has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with FFA because they want to work with young people who are planning to be involved in the many aspects of agriculture.
Following the tour and presentations, Wheeler took time to answer attendees’ questions.
“President Trump has been steadfast in his support for agriculture and rural America, and my priority as administrator has been to restore trust between the agency and the agriculture community,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Montana has my commitment that EPA will work with farmers and ranchers throughout the state in a cooperative manner, and ensure that American agriculture remains the best in the world.”
Northern Ag Network – 2020
Montana Farm Bureau