Bill proposes tax credit for farmers in exchange for water quality certifications

Bill proposes tax credit for farmers in exchange for water quality certifications

Farmers who enroll in the program, see an average of $25,000 dollars more than those who choose not to enroll.

(ABC 6 News) – Water quality and nitrate pollution is an ongoing issue in southeast Minnesota.

RELATED: State releases plan to address SE Minnesota water crisis

Now, a new bill in the State House of Representatives is hoping to incentivize farmers to get their land water quality certified.

If passed, H.F. 4044 would offer farmers a $5 per acre tax credit on land certified by the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).

For most farmers, they already know how important the quality and safety of water is.

“Southeast Minnesota has a lot of strong conservation-minded farmers and a lot of farmers work real hard to do the right thing and apply the right amount of nutrients at the right place and right time,” said Glen Groth, a crop farmer from Houston, MN.

In the ten years since MAWQCP began, around 1,400 farms have already signed up, totaling one million acres certified.

With the new bill, officials hope that number will rise.

“This little five dollar credit, it’s not nothing, you know it’s definitely something, it’s a little pat on the back for farmers who are going above and beyond,” said Groth.

For author of the bill, State Representative Steven Jacob, protecting water quality is personal.

As a farmer, he was one of the first to get his land water quality certified when the program launched.

“I want to lead by example,” said Jacob.

Rep. Jacob believes an incentivized approach will get more farmers on board, rather than imposing regulations.

“In the government, we wanna be transparent, we wanna be forthright, and and here’s an opportunity to be proactive and just do the right thing,” said Jacob.

The benefits for farmers go beyond just water quality.

According to the Farmer Business Management Program, farmers who participate in the program see profits of $25,000 more on average than farmers who don’t.

“We’ve always worked to maintain that top performance, and the growers themselves have always worked to make the changes that are identified that will help them retain the certification,” said Brad Jordahl Redlin from MAWQCP.

Though the financial benefits will hopefully draw more growers in, for many, knowing they can help people and the planet is enough.

“We wanna be good neighbors and responsible business people and responsible stewards of the land,” said Groth.

The bill currently has around 20 legislators signed on from both sides of the political aisle.

It will be up for a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee March 1.

Any farmers who want to get water quality certified should reach out to their local soil and water conservation district.