The Groundwater Protection Rule – previously referred to as the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule – has become a hotly debated topic over the past several months. With that, there have been many inaccurate reports circling regarding the draft Rule, particularly how this draft Rule came to be. Below is a detailed timeline of the Groundwater Protection Rule, which dates back to 1989.
- Groundwater Protection Act is passed by Minnesota Legislature and signed into law. Authority for the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan and the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule is provided through the passing of the Groundwater Protection Act.
- The first Nitrogen Management Plan, through which the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule is based, is adopted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).
2010 – 2014
- MDA convenes an advisory committee to revise and update the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP).
- MCGA is represented on the advisory committee, along with other Minnesota agricultural organizations.
- MDA releases a draft revision of the NFMP. MCGA submits comments on the draft NFMP. MDA receives formal responses from 32 interested parties. A more detailed history of the revision process can be found here.
- MDA releases the revised NFMP. Members of the previously mentioned advisory committee are listed on page two.
- MDA solicits public comment on a proposed new rule called the “Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule.” Comments are due January 29, 2016.
- MCGA submits comments to MDA on draft solicitation for the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule.
- In June, MDA solicits public comment on a draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule.
- The comment period closes in late August with over 800 public comments received, including comments from MCGA.
- On March 6, Governor Mark Dayton and MDA Commissioner David Frederickson hold a news conference to outline an updated timeline and map for the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule.
- On March 15, MCGA submits a letter to Governor Dayton requesting the immediate release of the rule. Shortly after, MDA responded to MCGA’s requests.
- During a House of Representatives Ag Finance Committee meeting on April 17, MDA Legislative Director Whitney Place announces the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule will released to the public on April 24 and filed with the state registrar on Apr. 30, followed by a 60-day comment period.
- On, April 24, MDA released the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule – previously referred to as the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule. The proposed rule, the statement of need and reasonableness, appendixes for the statement of need and reasonableness and the notice of public hearings are all listed on the MDA website, which can be viewed here.
- On April 30, the proposed Groundwater Protect Rule was formally published in the Minnesota State Register.
- As part of the formal rulemaking process, the Office of Administrative Hearings held public hearings throughout Minnesota in July 2018. Testimony was taken at those hearings and the public was also able to submit written comments during the initial comment period which closed on August 15, 2018.
- On October 1, the Office of Administrative Hearings issued its report concluding that MDA may move forward with the proposed rule, subject to a few required modifications. Click here to read more.
- On November 29, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a new Order determining that the required modifications had been made by MDA. However, the Chief Administrative Law Judge also determined the proposed rule could not be finally adopted until after the 2019 legislative session as a result of resolutions passed by the agriculture committees in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate during the 2018 legislative session. Read more.