Dakota Farmer

EPA officials tour North Dakota farms

Slideshow: North Dakota Grain Growers Association hosts annual E-Tour.

July 10, 2024

6 Slides

For the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, inviting EPA officials to the state to get a first-hand look at its agriculture practices has been an annual tradition for 30 years.

Called the E-Tour, this year’s event brought 15 EPA representatives from Denver and Washington, D.C., to North Dakota for a five-day tour.

“We bring them to show what North Dakota agriculture looks like,” says Kayla Pulvermacher, executive director for the association. “We show them these environments to show them what agriculture is like in North Dakota and to give them a real idea of what we’re dealing with, and we get a lot of positive feedback for it.”

Mutually beneficial experience

EPA officials toured farms, North Dakota State University facilities and agriculture businesses to see technology, environmental work and ag demonstrations.

Rebecca Perrin is the Region 8 ag adviser with EPA in the Denver office. She says she has attended this tour several times and appreciates the conversations and education that occur. “We tour different parts of the state each time, so every farm and farmer are a little different. I learn something new every single year,” she says.

“It’s valuable for us to see different production methods across the country and visit with producers,” she says. “It’s an opportunity for us — when we’re participating in various policy exercises — to be able to share that story about the implications … that might be seen with different environmental policies or practices, and how it intersects, in this case, with North Dakota agriculture.

“I love working with the North Dakota folks. There’s such an amazing work ethic in the folks here. And when farmers are at the table, we just make better policies.”

Kaitlin Picone is the senior adviser for stakeholder engagement at EPA in Washington. The 2024 tour was her first trip to North Dakota. “We’ve got EPA folks from different disciplines, different backgrounds, different experience levels, so it’s really important for us to get in the field and have that understanding of how our decisions are impacting people,” she says.

Picone adds that the tours are integral to discover growers’ perspectives, priorities and considerations for their farms. “We’re not often looking at every specialty crop or getting to experience it in person, so getting out of D.C. and experiencing farms and talking to farmers is important to the work we do,” she says. “Our role is protecting human health and the environment, but we want to make sure that growers have all the tools they need to grow the food we all eat.”

After the tour, Pulvermacher says association members answer attendee questions and converse further. “The folks on this tour actually give a presentation back to the rest of the folks in their department, so the experiences they share with their colleagues,” she says.

Pulvermacher credits participating farmers for the event’s success. “We’re thankful for the producers that step up and lead us around their farm,” she says. “It’s not an easy thing to ask a producer to lead a tour on their farm. But the ones who step up — we really appreciate it.”

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