As Buffer Zone Deadline Approaches, Most Farmers In Compliance

October 05, 2017 11:27 PM

(ABC 6 News) – As a November 1 deadline approaches for Minnesota farmers to comply with a state law designed to protect water quality, nearly all farmers are following the law, according to Gov. Mark Dayton’s office.

In a news release, Dayton’s office lauded state farmers for helping raise the number of public waters with a buffer between fields to 94 percent.


“We no-till as much as we can, we always soil test, we don't over apply nutrients, been working strongly on nutrient management,” Ron Frank, the vice president of the Mower County Farm Bureau, said.

Farmers have been practicing conservation techniques for decades, Frank said, since keeping sediment and nutrients on their fields benefits their crops and keeps the costs of fertilizer and other supplies low.

In Mower County, the vast majority of farmers have been in compliance with the law for years, Aaron Gamm, the buffer coordinator with the Mower Soil and Water Conservation District, said.

“In Mower County alone, we started with about 94 percent compliance in terms of acres in compliant in that 50-foot buffer zone,” he said. “There's been a commitment to soil and water quality since I've been in the industry and there's an ever-growing commitment to it through not only the buffer law but volunteer programs.”

Frank said he recognizes the importance of the buffer program, but worries about the lost revenue from converting productive land into a buffer zone. A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the best way to achieve the program’s goals, he said.

“We've been on this land in some cases many generations,” he said. “We know what works in some areas and some don't. Does that mean we're doing a good job everywhere, probably not, but we're always continuing to improve.”

Farmers who miss the November 1 deadline have a few options. In Mower County, they can apply for a waiver to push the deadline back one year while they wait for financial assistance. If a farmer wants to plant their own barrier in the buffer zone, they can apply for a waiver pushing the deadline to July 1, 2018.


Logan Reigstad

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