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Abstract

Agricultural sustainability requires that farmers must face an entanglement of regulations regarding not only conservation measures but also water quality. These entail learning the intricacies of conservation measures and water qualities as legally defined by the USDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as dealing with the bureaucracy of multiple agencies and paperwork. The lessons from the Sugar Creek Watershed in Ohio, classified as Ohio's second most polluted watershed, include proactive behavior based on a partnership between farmers and university researchers. The farmers had to confront the regulations of the EPA and in so doing insisted on high-density sampling to find out whether their own farms had polluted the watershed. The researchers who teamed with them were unexpectedly led into new headwaters and participatory research areas. The farmers were able to improve their profitability while decreasing pollution levels through innovative and culturally based solutions. This case, presently endorsed as a model by both the EPA and the USDA, is being replicated in Ohio and has the potential for replication in other states and countries.