Missouri & Arkansas to get help with Mississippi River funding

WASHINGTON (AP) - The troubled basin of the Mississippi River is set to receive a $320 million boost from the Agriculture Department.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is creating the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative. Agriculture Department officials tell The Associated Press that the initiative will fund efforts in 12 states along the 2,350-mile long Mississippi River.

(Those officials would speak only on condition of anonymity ahead of Vilsack's announcement today.)

Over four years, the funding will be used to improve water quality and remove pollutants.Vilsack will announce the plan by video to the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force, which is meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

The task force was formed in 1997 to develop a plan to reduce the size of the so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

(The funding will go to efforts in 12 states that are either along the Mississippi River or have tributaries that feed into it: Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.)

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