Buffers take the stage at joint Senate committee meeting

Early this week, the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee, along with the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee met to hear an update from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) on the current status of the buffer maps, implementation and alternative practices available, followed by 20 public testimonies from across Minnesota.

Steve Colvin, deputy director of the DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, said there has been over 4,000 change requests from the first buffer map released and nearly 2,500 changes have been made. Colvin hopes the final map will be released at the end of February, with all the needed changes made. 

Lawrence Sukalski, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) director followed Colvin’s update with his testimony on what he would like to see addressed. 

“I’d ask for local control,” Sukalski said to both committees. “These technicians know the fields, they know the watersheds. They’d get the recipe right when it comes to protecting our waters compared to someone in St. Paul.”

Sukalski also addressed the issue of Palmer amaranth, an invasive weed introduced to Minnesota this past year, and the potential for making its way into conservation planted buffer strips. 

 “All the benefits we’ve made with water quality and tillage would be given up overnight if Palmer amaranth spreads,” Sukalski said. “We will be reversing our efforts, going backwards with our tillage efforts.”

Click here to watch the committee meeting.