Dayton’s Nitrogen Rule doesn’t address agricultural concerns

March 7, 2018 / by Minnesota Soybean Categories: Association News, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association

MSGA asks MDA to rewrite rule, use properly designed monitoring wells

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) is disappointed with Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA)’s attempt to rebrand the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule as a groundwater protection rule.

“MSGA was one of the organizations that commented on the rule and we appreciate the work done by MDA to modify the rule based on the concerns that they heard.  Many of the changes are steps in the right direction,” says MSGA President Michael Petefish  “However, the changes announced today do not address some of the biggest concerns MSGA has with the N Fertilizer Rule.”

MDA’s ruling was issued after 17 public meetings with more than 1,500 citizens across the state. Still, Petefish says, MDA’s proposal missed the mark.

“We all want clean, safe water but this will be another burden on farmers, and put Minnesota’s surface waters in jeopardy,” he says.

MDA’s proposal means that a farmer would be unable to irrigate their crop in a sensitive area after Aug. 31— regardless of weather conditions, drought, crop need, or even the level of Nitrogen in the water.

“We hope that MDA will rewrite the rule to properly determine the sources of Nitrogen in the groundwater,” Petefish says. “This would involve using properly designed and designated monitoring wells.”

Although nitrogen fertilizer isn’t used on soybeans, Gov. Dayton’s rule could have a devastating effect on Minnesota’s 28,000 soybean farmers. Soybeans are a legume and have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air into ammonia, where it can be used to build proteins. Soybean production doesn’t require Nitrogen application, and can prevent the need to apply Nitrogen when used in crop rotation.

“Make no mistake: this rule does impact our fields, families and future,” Petefish says. “MSGA believes that MDA should change the definition of ‘Nitrogen Fertilizer’ to bring it more in accordance with the Groundwater Protection Act. The rule shouldn’t harm Minnesota’s farmers based on faulty well tests or prior nitrogen fertilizer practices.”

MDA expects the rule will be published for formal comment in May and will hold public hearings on the draft groundwater protection rule this summer.

“We welcome the opportunity to further engage with the governor and MDA to find a common sense solution,” Petefish says.

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