MANKATO, Minn. — The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) commends chairs Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau) and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), and the state representatives and senators who were a part of the Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee.
MSGA also thanks the committee for protecting and defending the interests of Minnesota farmers through their efforts to delay the 2015 buffer land.
“To turn our backs on the concerns of rural Minnesotans in this case I think would be doing a disservice,” Representative Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, said, “and quite frankly disrespectful to those folks.”
MSGA President Theresia Gillie applauded Fabian’s vigorous opposition of the buffer bill and implored Gov. Mark Dayton to compromise on a vital issue to Minnesota farmers.
“Farmers were promised that this was not a one-size-fits-all bill,“ Gillie said. “By delaying on releasing alternatives, getting support to local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and by delaying in correcting the maps, the administration is forcing farmers into a one-size conservation practice.”
The buffer law is set to take effect in November 2017, and requires landowners to place 16.5- to 50-foot strips of vegetative buffers around the state’s waterways, restricting farmers’ freedom to work their land.
Fabian, chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, has championed a bill that delays the buffer law until November 2018. The delay would deliver clarity to the law, help finance implementation and grant more authority to local SWCDs.
Last month, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced revisions to public waters inventory (PWI) areas that were erroneously claimed as part of the public drainage system, removing 540 watercourses from the county PWI and buffer protection maps.
Throughout the 2017 legislative session, Fabian has represented the interests of his constituents in northern Minnesota and statewide. Fabian has also expressed his disappointment with Gov. Dayton’s disconnect with the state’s rural residents and the governor’s unwillingness to address the flaws in the buffer bill.
Gillie says the murkiness surrounding the specifics and layout of the buffer bill necessitate a delay.
“We have been being told for two years about alternatives being available and about local control,” she said. “We still don’t have a clear picture of how the alternatives work. We still haven’t seen local SWCDs get the resources that they need, but we are expected to go forward?”
MSGA strongly urges Gov. Dayton to sign the Conference Committee agreement. This bill will help deliver on promises the governor and his administration made to farmers when the buffer bill was passed in 2015.
Delays in updating maps and releasing alternatives – along with delays in support and resources to local SWCDs — call for a delay in this year’s deadline. By blindly plowing forward, farmers will be forced into accepting a one-size-fits-all buffer handed down by the state rather than a better alternative controlled by local SWCDs.
MSGA implores Gov. Dayton and legislators to come to the table to help attain SWCDs resources for local control, and to grant farmers more time to consider alternatives that may be better for both their farms and Minnesota’s water quality.
About the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association
MSGA is a non-profit, farmer-controlled membership organization established in 1962. Its goal is to ensure profitable soybean farming by influencing favorable ag legislation, monitoring government policies and supporting research and market development activities.
— Minnesota Soybean Growers Association