Court ruling delays ‘Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule’ until at least 2019

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) applauds a recent Administrative law judge court ruling by an administrative judge that prevents the signing of the ‘Nitrogen (N) Fertilizer Rule’ until at least the conclusion of the upcoming 2019 legislative session.

“This decision is a perfect example why MSGA pounds the pavement in St. Paul year-round to advocate for farmers, and we thank Sen. Bill Weber and Rep. Paul Anderson for standing with us,” says MSGA President Michael Petefish. “Because we stood up for our farmers, we now have a solid victory for Minnesota agriculture.”

The ‘N Fertilizer Rule,’ formally known as the ‘Groundwater Protection Act,” is a proposal from Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater across Minnesota. Under the proposed rule, restrictions would be placed on soil applications in certain areas of the state based on soil types. During the 2018 legislative session, the legislature invoked its authority under MN Statute 14.126 to delay the rule’s implementation until after the conclusion of the 2019 legislative session.

“This ruling is a victory for Minnesota farmers and landowners,” said Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), chair of the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy Committee. “As policymakers, we have both a duty and a legal right to have input and oversight on an issue that has the potential to greatly impact Minnesota’s agricultural community. The legislature must carefully consider the proposed rule, its ramifications, and the research upon which it is based, before considering such a significant change. The judge’s ruling ensures the legislature will have adequate time to do just that in the coming legislative session.”

MSGA commended Weber and other legislators who fought against the hastily-made N Fertilizer Rule and conclude it exceeded the authority of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture commissioner.

MSGA was active throughout 2018 in pushing back against the N Rule. During the 2018 legislative session, Petefish and Smentek testified before the Minnesota House Agriculture Policy Committee on the proposed N Fertilizer Rule.

“All rule-making authority comes from the legislature,” says MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek, an environmental attorney. “This is an appropriate control on that delegation of authority, and we are pleased that the legislature will get more of a chance to review the N Rule. This will ensure rules fit with legislative intent, and will prevent lawsuits down the road.”

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