Statement from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association Related to Water Buffer Issue

Buffer near Montevideo, MN

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), in response to comments yesterday from Governor Mark Dayton regarding water buffer proposals in the legislature, noted that Minnesota corn farmers across the state are on track toward implementing a variety of innovative measures to help protect water quality throughout farm country in Greater Minnesota.

Governor Dayton, in a recent letter to the association, thanked MCGA for its “excellent work” in showing how to “protect our land, water and soil resources” and noted, “In particular, I want to acknowledge the special effort you are undertaking to work with state agencies and academic institutions to develop provisions to support Minnesota’s Buffer Law, which allow the use of alternative practices, if they provide comparable water quality protection.”

MCGA, however, has expressed some key concerns with the Buffer Law and the pressing need to address the defective provisions yet this legislative session. Specifically, there needs to be clarity and agreement on what will be acceptable alternative practices that farmers can implement on their farm operation. In addition, there are still controversies regarding those private ditches that were classified during the Public Waters Inventory of the 1970s. Due to these concerns and others, MCGA believes the effective date needs to be extended beyond this November to provide adequate time for farmers to get into compliance.

Harold Wolle

Harold Wolle

“Minnesota corn farmers are taking the lead in advancing creative approaches that support the water quality objectives we all want to achieve,” said MCGA President Harold Wolle. “Both the Governor and several legislators have acknowledged that the development of alternative practices and better approaches has been more complicated than what was assumed when the law was passed in 2015. We urge the Governor and legislators to work together to clarify and fix the problem provisions in the current buffer law and allow for enough time to effectively implement it.”

Last fall, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association announced a major sustainability goal and multi-year initiative for Minnesota corn farmers to be the most sustainable and environmentally responsible corn farmers in the United States. This sustainability goal is comprised of three key elements: People – strengthening farms and rural communities; Planet – sustainable farming practices that protect and enhance the environment; and, Profit – generating a fair return to farmers so they can support better environmental practices and their communities.

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