MDA responds to MCGA’s call for the release of the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule

Last month, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) sent a letter to Governor Mark Dayton requesting the immediate release of both the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule and detailed GIS maps, followed by a 90-day comment period. Recently, MCGA received an official response to its requests from Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Commissioner Dave Frederickson.

In the letter, Commissioner Frederickson stated the draft Nitrogen Rule has not yet been released because the language and accompanying Statement of Need and Reasonableness are still being drafted, now more than seven months after the initial comment period drew more than 800 comments.

Commissioner Frederickson also noted in his response that MDA has now released the GIS maps, this was shortly after Governor Dayton received MCGA’s letter. The detailed GIS maps allow farmers to zoom in to view quarter sections and identify if their land may be impacted by the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule. Click here to access the detailed GIS maps.

Also in response to MCGA’s letter, Frederickson guaranteed farmers would have more than 30 days to review and provide public comment on the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule. Frederickson said the length of the comment period would depend on how long other rulemaking steps take. The Commissioner references an early May release of the draft Rule followed by a 30-60 day comment period.  MCGA has requested a 90-day comment period in its letter to Governor Dayton to allow farmers ample time during their most busy months to carefully review and comment on the draft Rule.

Shortly after MCGA’s letter was received, MDA held a meeting with MCGA and other stakeholders and outlined an initial framework for the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule. This framework includes potential revisions to fall nitrogen application restrictions and the mitigation process, as well as an updated timeline. However, the framework is not the official release of the draft Rule and, therefore, not binding. Click here to view that framework.

During a House of Representatives Ag Finance Committee meeting held yesterday, news surfaced that the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule will be released to the public on Apr. 24 and published in the State Register on Apr. 30. Once filed, a 60-day comment period will be held, according to MDA Legislative Director Whitney Place.

The news is welcomed by MCGA and its grower leaders, who will finally have the opportunity to review the full rule. Following its release, MCGA will continue its efforts to ensure concerns from farmers are addressed in the final version of the rule.

The timeline of the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule

There have been many inaccurate reports circling regarding the draft Rule, particularly how this draft Rule came to be. For a full timeline of the process, which goes back to 1989 with the passing of the Groundwater Protection Act, and MCGA’s involvement, click here.

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