dayton buffer proposal

Buffer Forum Full of Farmer Questions

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?”

listeningforum2A 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.”

  • Gary Joachim

    Several years ago I inquired about putting an existing grass strip along our ditch into CRP. The area was definitely eligible for payment but to qualify I needed to reseed to a qualified mix of plant species. I thought it counter-productive to kill off a perfectly good existing strip in order to reseed to something else. Talk about Catch-22.

    • Bruce Schmoll

      I was at the Dodge County NRCS office today talking about some of the issue surrounding the 50 buffer proposal. There are other options available other than creating a 50 foot strip without eligible payment. The CRP program would be a viable option that could be tailored to each individual field depending on the characteristics of that field. Clearly, this would be a much more attractive and accepted option to producers vs. a flat 50′ determination.