The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) submitted a letter to Governor Mark Dayton this morning advocating for the immediate release of both the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule and detailed GIS maps, followed by a 90-day comment period.
MCGA President Kirby Hettver testified in front of the Minnesota House Agriculture Policy Committee this morning and reiterated these requests, as well as Minnesota corn farmers’ continued commitment to sustainability and best management practices. Coinciding with MCGA’s letter to the Governor and President Hettver’s testimony earlier today, MCGA members are encouraged to engage today on this issue by contacting Gov. Dayton.
Quickly and easily send an email to Gov. Dayton today: Click here.
Today’s actions follow a press conference last week where Gov. Dayton and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson released a static updated map and announced that the draft rule would not be published until May, followed by a 30-day comment period. The press conference was the first news related to the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule since August when the initial comment period on the rule drew more than 800 comments. Beyond the release of the map and an update on the timeline, no new details were released about the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule.
MCGA asserts that timeline for the release of the draft rule, followed by only a 30-day comment period, is unacceptable.
“Minnesota’s corn growers have been proactive in our efforts to improve nitrogen management practices, investing nearly $6 million in nitrogen research and education since the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule process began in 2015,” Hettver said. “The state’s corn farmers support the goals of reducing nitrogen impacts on and off the farm, and protecting our drinking water; however, this process needs to be done sensibly to ensure compliance and the outcome we all want.”
In the letter submitted to Gov. Dayton, which you can read in full here, MCGA makes the following requests:
- RELEASE THE DRAFT NITROGEN FERTILIZER RULE NOW. The initial comment period on the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule closed last August 25th – seven months ago. The Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule process has been ongoing since 2015, and it is past time to release it publicly for the benefit of farmers and other interested parties.
- AUTHORIZE A 90-DAY COMMENT PERIOD. A 30-day window for public comment is simply unacceptable when this proposed rule has been dragging on through the rulemaking process for years. Allowing only 30 days for the public to comment sends a signal that public input is not valued. Again, farmers are entering their most busy months and imposing on them a limited window to find the time to carefully review and comment on a complex rule that materially impacts them is unfair and wrong.
- PROVIDE DETAILED GIS MAPS. Farmers need to understand how the new Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule will impact their specific farming operation, and to do that they need the more detailed GIS maps.
MCGA and its grower leaders have played a constructive role in the Nitrogen rulemaking process with the goals of ensuring the rule is fair, based on accepted science, and implemented in a manner that does not impose undue hardship on Minnesota growers during tough economic times on the farm.
During the initial comment period last August, MCGA farmer leaders submitted comments on the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule on behalf of MCGA. Concerns included a lack of information on details of the mitigation strategy outside of the Drinking Water Supply Management Areas, as well as the monitoring protocols that will be used to track trends. Furthermore, a number of concerns have been raised about the absence of a dedicated monitoring network particularly in areas where mitigation requirements occur.
It is crucial that the next version of the draft Rule be released immediately, so MCGA can review the updated version of the draft Rule and ensure these and any other grower concerns were addressed.