Protecting and improving water quality is a very serious issue and FSA takes every step to ensure that its actions do not cause adverse effects on water bodies. FSA strives to promote its conservation programs and encourage wider participation by producers in order to improve the quality of the nation's surface and ground water.
FSA administers a wide variety of programs for agricultural producers that have the potential to either improve water quality or to contribute to further degradation of water quality. Therefore, all programs and projects implemented by FSA are reviewed to determine the effects of those programs or actions on water quality.
Programs such as CRP provide positive benefits in regards to water quality. For example, grass filter strips reduce the amount of sediment that may enter surface water while controlled drainage structures reduce the amount of nutrients being discharged from agricultural fields. In completing its environmental review of proposed CRP actions, FSA considers the short-term impacts and long-term impacts associated with installation of conservation practices and maintenance of cover crops or trees. For example, ground disturbance associated with installation of a water control structure must be analyzed for its short-term impacts on sedimentation. In contrast, the installation and maintenance of cover crops and trees will provide long-term positive benefits in regards to water quality.
Other programs administered by FSA such as loans to finance confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are closely reviewed to determine their potential effects on water quality. CAFOs have the potential to directly and indirectly discharge animal waste into water bodies. Prior to approving a loan to finance a CAFO, FSA must consider these potential effects in its environmental review and require appropriate mitigation measures to reduce or avoid any adverse effects.