MCGA testifies on Groundwater Protection Rule; Comment period extended to Aug. 15

Nitrogen fertilizer application

Administrative Law Judge hearings on the Groundwater Protection Rule began Monday in Farmington, and Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Kirby Hettver was on hand to provide testimony on behalf of the state’s corn growers.

Prior to Hettver’s testimony, officials announced the written comment period for the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule was extended until Aug. 15, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. For farmers who are unable to attend a hearing, the additional two weeks provides more time to submit written comments during the busy summer months.

Hettver, who farms in DeGraff, provided comprehensive testimony on Monday detailing MCGA’s work with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture through the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan process, as well as the many proactive steps taken by the state’s corn growers to increase their nitrogen use efficiency.

Hettver began his testimony detailing the importance of the state’s corn sector, with 2017 corn production valued at more than $4.5 billion. As production has grown, Hettver stressed so has the state’s corn growers commitment to conservation, including increasing nitrogen use efficiency while maintaining production levels

MCGA and its farmer members also remain committed to the goal of becoming the most sustainable and environmentally responsible corn farmers in the nation. To reach this ambitious objective, Hettver testified Minnesota’s corn growers have invested more than $6 million since 2014 in third party research to develop the best nitrogen management practices. He also discussed the farmer-led efforts through the Innovation Grant Program focused on reducing nitrogen loss. And to help bring nitrogen-focused research to the field, Hettver detailed farmer-funded education efforts, primarily though the Nitrogen Smart program, which more than 600 Minnesota farmers have attended.

Hettver’s testimony was an opportunity for MCGA to stress the voluntary efforts already taken by the state’s corn growers to protect Minnesota’s drinking water.

In addition to MCGA’s testimony, it is imperative all corn farmers provide input on the many practices already employed on farms to increase nitrogen use efficiency. It is also important farmers stress the variability of these practices based on location, stressing the importance of local participation on advisory teams moving forward.

To learn more about how you can make your voice heard during the rulemaking process, visit mncorn.org/NitrogenRule. Administrative Law Judge hearings are scheduled statewide through July 26, and farmers will now have until Aug. 15 to provide written comments during the initial comment period. There is also a five-day rebuttal comment period from August 16-22. You can mind more information on how to engage in each process here.

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