Here are details on the newly passed buffer amendment

 

A ditch buffer strip in southern Minnesota.

A ditch buffer strip in southern Minnesota.

As the Minnesota legislative session dragged into late into Sunday night and early Monday morning, the Environment and Agriculture Committee again adopted language on the buffer issue. The amendment, basically, calls for the enforcement of existing buffer laws on a timeline for adoption and includes a fine for noncompliance.

The final omnibus Environment/Ag bill is awaiting final approval by the House and Senate, then goes to the Governor’s office for signature.

Provisions in the amendment include:

  • By November of 2018, buffers of 16.5 feet must be installed on all public ditches.
  • By November 2017, counties and municipalities must ensure that all public shorelands have an average buffer of 50 feet and a minimum of 30 feet.
  • Alternative practices that offer comparable protection are allowed.
  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) must promote and assist landowners in installing buffers and work with landowners in finding financial and other resources.
  • Farmers who don’t comply could face fines up to $500 and orders for corrective action.
  • The amendment also contains reporting and progress updates for agencies, counties and municipalities to measure buffer progress.
  • Legacy funds were also added in another bill to help SWCDs work with landowners on buffers.

You can read the entire Environment and Agriculture conference committee report here. Buffer language starts at item 136.14.

MinnesotaCornerstone.com will have more information on the buffer amendment and other legislative priorities of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association throughout the week.

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