water summit

MSGA President’s Perspective: Setting the Record Straight

I think it is safe to say, and to no surprise, Minnesota’s water quality is back in the limelight. Water is essential to life so the water quality balance in the environment is always on people’s mind. We farmers think about water all the time. Though every farm is different and has its own unique qualities, keeping our inputs on our lands and not in the waterways through practices best designed for our farm is important to each and every one of us.

Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton announced his Water Summit. Registration filled up fairly quickly, but rest assured, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association will have several directors in attendance. Tuesday, at a pre-summit discussion at the Governor’s mansion, MSGA along with several agriculture groups discussed the upcoming summit. We shared our concerns that registration filled up quickly. There were also concerns that a number of spots were filled before ag groups were informed about the sign-up.

The Governor’s office offered that the Water Summit will focus on 10 areas from urban environments, funding, aquatic invasive species, water quantity, to rural environments, among others. Essentially, the plan is for stakeholders to gather and help build a strategic plan to guide the legislature in the coming years.

MSGA will engage in the Water Summit process with integrity and will keep the best interests of soybean growers in mind every step of the way. If discussions become polarized, we may need to reassess what direction to take. For now the optimism of working with all groups to build consensus warrants full engagement. This will not distract from our efforts to clean up the language on the Buffer Bill.

There are ways you can help as well. We need to be vocal with our legislators. We need to speak with them in the remaining weeks before the session. We need to invite them to our events in our counties.

Or you can try a different approach and let us do some of the work for you. Simply text speakup to 52886. You’ll receive a text back with a link asking you for a bit more information—your name, address and zip code. We will not share your information with other groups.

When you plug in your residential address, the app does the rest of the work, first identifying your legislators and then emailing them. You can personalize the message or just send the message we’ve written for you. There are even social media tools that will tweet at your legislators or post to their Facebook accounts, and you can share what you’ve done to encourage others to join in our efforts to articulate that farmers do care about water quality, and that we are more than we were made out to be in 2015.

While you’re busy on your end, we’ll be busy making calls and knocking on doors. MSGA will not let others tell our stories for us. Together let’s stand up for agriculture.

Paul Freeman is President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and farms near Starbuck, Minn. He can be reached at paulfrankf@hotmail.com.