'Taking the Pollution out of Agricultural Production'

craig cox150
Craig A. Cox

Agricultural runoff – fertilizers and pesticides from cultivated fields, manure from pastures and feedlots, sediment washed away by erosion – pollutes many U.S. lakes and rivers. Craig A. Cox of the Environmental Working Group will talk about the agricultural pollution problem and some strategies for reducing it in a free public lecture on Thursday, Feb. 24,  at the University of Minnesota.

Cox’s lecture, titled “Taking the Pollution out of Agricultural Production,” is sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the university’s College of Biological Sciences. It is part of the Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources.

The lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the Student Center theater on the university’s St. Paul campus. Seating is limited, and pre-registration is required.


Cox has worked on land and water conservation for nearly 30 years for agencies that include the National  Academy of Sciences, the  U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Soil and Water Conservation Society. As senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group, he coordinates the organization’s research and advocacy on agriculture, renewable energy and climate change.

In his lecture, Cox will touch on:

  • Conservation practices that can reduce agricultural runoff.
  • Economic incentives, including commodity prices, federal farm payments and bio-fuel policies, that influence farmers’ decisions and impact conservation and pollution.
  • A key public policy question: What anti-pollution costs should landowners and farm operators bear, and what land-use and management changes should be paid for by taxpayers?
  • How can limited state and federal expenditures achieve the biggest pollution prevention return?

Cox’s talk is the fourth in a series of lectures sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the College of Biological Sciences.

Previous lectures were delivered by: Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona law professor who wrote two books on water sustainability; Hedrick Smith, the producer of “Poisoned Waters,” a PBS Frontline documentary; and Louis J. Guillette Jr., a reproductive biologist from the Medical University of South Carolina who has researched birth defects in wildlife raised in polluted waters.

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