Buffers: Here’s where we are at

Buffer near Montevideo, MN

One of the most important topics to farmers during the 2017 legislative session, the buffer law was created to protect state water resources from erosion and runoff pollution. While farmers agree with the intended outcome, many are concerned with various aspects of timing and implementation of the buffers.

At the Capitol, the House and Senate proposed legislation that includes delaying buffer law implementation, modified definitions of public waters and necessary buffer widths, and forbids enforcement of the law unless landowners are given assistance to cover 100 percent of costs to establish buffers. That is good news, however Governor Mark Dayton has said he won’t sign any legislation that delays buffer implementation.

While work is being done at the Capitol, MCGA is partnering with area organizations and state agencies to develop alternative practices that meet water quality goals while avoiding the one-size-fits-all buffer solution. With input from MCGA, the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR) released six alternative practices that offer landowners flexibility in how they meet water quality improvement goals.

BWSR alternative practice options (For more information on each, visit bwsr.state.mn.us/buffers):

  • Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
  • USDA Practice Standard Filter Strip
  • Grassed Waterway on Public Waters
  • Concentrated flow into public ditches via culvert, structure, vegetative pathway or tile.
  • Concentrated flow into public waters via culvert, structure, vegetative pathway or tile.
  • Conservation Tillage with a reduced buffer width

MCGA is working with BWSR and the University of Minnesota to develop additional alternative practices that are both better tailored to each situation and user friendly for famers. Be sure to follow Minnesota Corn on Twitter (@mncorn) or Facebook (‘Minnesota Corn’), or visit our blog at mncorn.org/blog for updates.

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