Over 300 farmers attended a series of six “What you need to Know” district meetings hosted by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) in July. The meetings were an opportunity for MCGA staff, along with staff from partner organizations, to provide an update on Minnesota’s new buffer requirements and other legislative and policy items important to corn farming in Minnesota.
Corn farmers filled meeting rooms in Red Lake Falls, Fergus Falls, Sauk Centre, Fairmont, Redwood Falls and Austin. After opening remarks from a MCGA farmer-leader, MCGA’s policy director Anna Boroff provided an overview of Minnesota’s new buffer requirements, an update on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Waters of the United States” proposal and EPA’s proposal to cut the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Boroff also detailed the work MCGA put in to reach a compromise on Gov. Dayton’s buffer legislation, which originally required 50 feet of perennial vegetation along all waterways and ended up, basically, stepping up enforcement of buffer requirements that already existed.
Warren Formo from the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center went into greater detail on the new buffer requirements. Formo answered several technical questions farmers had about the new law, but made it clear that several provisions in the law still need to be worked out.
The Department of Natural Resources is expected to release maps in the coming months that should provide further guidance on which ditches and waterways will require buffers.
Staff from local Soil & Water Conservation Districts wrapped up each meeting with their perspective on the new buffer laws and resources that might be available to farmers to comply with the new requirements.
Thank you to all the farmers who attended. If you’re a farmer who was unable to attend any of the six MCGA meetings and you’d like to know about Minnesota’s new buffer laws and other legislative topics covered, you can contact Boroff, Formo or your local SWCD office.