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New Action for Soil Protection


January 2009








When the 111th Congress convenes, a priority for environmental policy leaders should be to ensure sustainable soils. The escalating crisis in soil destruction and nonpoint source pollution is tied to a decades-long reluctance to curb the environmental impacts of agriculture.

The worldwide crisis in soil destruction receives relatively little public attention. The United States is losing soil at 10 times the rate of soil replenishment, while China and India's losses are 30 to 40 times greater. The economic losses estimated are about $37.6 billion in lost productivity in the United States and $400 billion a year worldwide. Over the last 40 years, 30% of the world's arable land has become unproductive.

This erosion is a major component of the runoff that bars states from meeting the goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Getting better environmental performance from the agriculture sector will finally allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address seriously the total maximum daily load challenge of the Act.