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To whom it may concern:

Regarding the draft Action Plan of the EPA's state-federal task force, The Iowa Farmers Union wishes to express its support for strong action to address the increasing problem of excess nutrients entering the Gulf of Mexico, creating a hypoxic "Dead Zone."

Clearly, the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that hypoxia in the Gulf is caused by the excessive run-off of nutrients-primarily agricultural in origin, but including urban-based pollutants as well-from Mississippi basin watersheds. Furthermore, there can be little doubt that a significant portion of these nutrients have their origin in nitrogen-based fertilizers, both chemical and natural, applied to croplands in the upper Midwest, including our own state of Iowa.

We have taken many steps to address this problem in Iowa under Governor Tom Vilsack's leadership. However, there is much remaining to be done, and it is clear that the situation calls for concerted, comprehensive action at the federal level.

We must establish clear goals for reducing the levels of nitrogen-based nutrients reaching the Gulf. The costs associated with achieving these goals, moreover, must be evenly distributed among the states. No one state or group of producers should be asked to assume a disproportionate burden in addressing this problem. From our perspective as farmers, we believe that the federal government must establish meaningful, positive incentives for producers to apply fertilizers responsibly, as well as to create buffer strips and reserves that protect waterways from runoffs.

The Iowa Farmers Union is both ready and willing to work with both state and federal governments to address this problem. Thank you for taking these comments into consideration.

Dennis Smith, Executive Director
Iowa Farmers Union

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