Proposed Groundwater Protection Rule

Proposed Groundwater Protection Rule

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) released the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule – previously referred to as the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule – on April 24, 2018. The Groundwater Protection Rule was formally published in the Minnesota State Register on April 30th, followed by an initial 90-day comment period.

The proposed Groundwater Protection Rule, the statement of need and reasonableness, appendixes for the statement of need and reasonableness and the notice of public hearings are listed on the MDA website here. 

The release of the rule in April follows a public letter by MCGA to Governor Mark Dayton in March requesting the immediate release of the rule and GIS maps, followed by an extended comment period. The goal of these requests was to provide farmers with adequate time to review the rule during the busiest time of their year. MCGA appreciates the work of MDA staff to release the rule prior to the mid-May timeline previously proposed, in addition to the 90-day comment period.

Next Steps

As part of the formal rulemaking process, the Office of Administrative Hearings will be holding public hearings throughout Minnesota in July. Testimony will be taken at these hearings before the Administrative Law Judge. Farmers can also submit written comments by August 2 at 4:30 p.m. to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

For more information on how to engage in this process, click here.

MCGA’s Role

It is vital for Minnesota agriculture that MCGA and corn farmers provide comment to ensure the rule accomplishes its goal of protecting water while making sense in implementation. MCGA has been involved with the development of the rule and will continue to advocate for, and address the concerns of, corn farmers.

To date, MCGA has submitted five letters of comment on previous versions of the rule. MCGA grower leaders have also worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to further communicate why certain changes to the rule are necessary.

Currently, MCGA and its grower leaders are carefully reviewing the nearly 400 pages of the rule and the technical supporting documents. MCGA will submit detailed comments on the rule, which will be available at mncorn.org.

Although MDA has made several improvements to the proposed rule based on comments submitted by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (and other agricultural groups) regarding earlier drafts of the rule, the proposed rule does not address all of the concerns that have been raised and would grant the MDA new authority to impose restrictions on farmers’ use of nitrogen fertilizer.

The overall quality of our groundwater is a legitimate concern, and we hope all of Minnesota’s corn growers join us in being part of the solution.