Agricultural Policy Review


IN THE fall of 1997, the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force was established to better understand and address hypoxia concerns in the Gulf of Mexico. The task force includes representatives from numerous state and federal agencies including the US Army Corps of Engineers, USDA, the US Department of Commerce, US Department of Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, and the National Tribal Water Council. In 2008, the Task Force released an action plan outlining a national strategy to tackle recurrent hypoxic conditions in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin (Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008). The report suggests that at least a 45 percent reduction in riverine total nitrogen and phosphorus is needed in order to control the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Complementary efforts by EPA have encouraged individual states to establish frameworks to reduce nutrient pollution in their states (US EPA 2011; 2016). The EPA underscores that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution could become “one of the costliest and the most challenging environmental problems [in the United States].”