At the 2019 Annual Meeting of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Regional Administrator Ken McQueen will announce the availability of $4.8 million in funding to expand research on managing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in rural America and the agricultural sector. This funding is a part of EPA’s extensive efforts to help communities address the larger issue of PFAS nationwide. In a memorandum issued in February 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler called for the agency to prioritize new federal research that will help farmers, ranchers, and rural communities by generating new scientifically-driven information on PFAS, potential PFAS impacts in agricultural settings, and actions people can take to address PFAS in their communities.
“EPA is following through on our commitment under the PFAS Action Plan and the memo to close the gaps in the science around PFAS as quickly as possible by supporting cutting-edge research that will help manage PFAS issues in agricultural and rural economies,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We want to make sure that decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels have the best science available to make informed decisions. These new research grants will help identify potential impacts of PFAS to farms, ranches and rural communities.”
“While our scientific understanding of PFAS continues to develop, the people of New Mexico, especially farmers and ranchers, already know how it can affect the water resources that are so critical to the state’s environmental and economic wellbeing,” said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “With this funding, EPA is committing to finding solutions to the challenges PFAS presents and bringing relief to rural communities.”
“EPA is uniquely suited to lead and promote research on this important topic and USDA applauds EPA’s focus on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. EPA’s funding of this research complements the work USDA does supporting U.S. production agriculture and ensuring a safe food supply,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Scott Hutchins.
“NASDA appreciates the EPA’s efforts to prioritize PFAS research that will help the agricultural community. As the primary stewards for the agricultural industries in their states, NASDA members will continue to work closely with the EPA as the agency implements its PFAS Action Plan. Together, we can ensure healthy communities and farms across America,” said National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn.
EPA is seeking grant applications that help improve the agency’s understanding of the potential impacts of PFAS on water quality and availability in rural communities and agricultural operations across the United States. Specifically, the agency is seeking research on PFAS occurrence, fate, and transport in water sources used by rural communities and agricultural operations and new or improved PFAS treatment methods appropriate for small drinking water and wastewater systems including influents, effluents, and biosolids/residuals. Some of the questions EPA hopes to answer include:
- How do serial biosolids applications impact PFAS concentrations and accumulation over time?
- What are the impacts of factors such as soil type, crop type, and landscape traits, such as topography, that may influence PFAS concentration and accumulation?
- How do we treat and clean up PFAS from water, soil and biosolids used in agricultural settings?
EPA is accepting applications through February 11, 2020.