Last Friday state directors of agriculture from Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming met with Environmental Protection Agency officials from Region 7 and Region 8 at the EPA Region 7 headquarters in Kansas City. EPA Region 7 Senior Advisor Josh Svaty says the meeting was a chance for EPA and the states to form a dialogue.
"We did one last year in Denver at the same time and it went so well we said we should do this again this year," Svaty said. "There are some specific things discussed, we talk about nutrients and some of the other things that are happening at EPA, we inform them of that and vice versa. But more so than anything I think the value of that meeting is the building of a strong line of communication and friendship between those directors."
Svaty says that while EPA's state partners are typically the Environmental Quality agencies or natural resource agencies, more and more EPA work is intersecting with agriculture and more ag directors are looking to EPA for information of what is going on.
"They have a lot more credibility in their states than we do and we recognize that," Svaty said. "So I think both the ag directors and the EPA Regional administrators realize the value that if each of us understands what the other is doing we are better suited to conduct our work and also share our work with other people."
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, who is the president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, said it was an very good meeting, a very open process with a lot of questions and discussions.
"We talked about ways we think they can do a better job working with producers instead of just going out and dinging folks for violations and how we think that is important," Northey said. "They talked to us about the good things they are doing and how they are trying to change some of that culture as well. So a lot of good give and take in this meeting."