There were plenty of questions about Governor Dayton’s Buffer proposal at the Blooming Prairie City Center Saturday, March 21, but none more prominent than “why 50 feet?”
A large contingent of farmers turned out for a listening forum hosted by Rep. Peggy Bennett, Albert Lea-R. John Jaschke, Executive Director for the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), was the key spokesman throughout the forum, as he answered questions concerning those impacted by the proposed law, requiring a 50-foot vegetated buffer around the state’s waterways.
“The amount of time agricultural groups have put into getting ahead of this initiative is outstanding,” Jaschke said. “Each group has been doing their part and it’s great to see their impact.”
One item that farmers brought to the table was suggesting alternatives to the proposal, like Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), a voluntary program where participants receive financial incentives to cropland and marginal pastureland from agricultural production.
“If farmers were encouraged and shown its respective science as to why 50 is the accurate number, we would be more willing to participate,” a farmer in attendance said. “Encouraged not mandated.”
Freeborn County was also a large topic of the conversation, as it was one of the first counties to complete a process that resulted in filter strips along all public ditches in the county. These strips measure 16.5 feet wide. Surrounding counties are currently looking to Freeborn as an example because of the county’s high rate of participation.
“We, as farmers, are not against buffers,” one participant said. “I don’t want us portrayed as that. We just want to be at the table and have an input when it comes to a law that affects the land we work on every day.”