MSGA: BWSR backtracks, apologizes to MN farmers for buffer kerfuffle

Board says Gov. Dayton wasn’t privy to hasty decision

Facing a vigorous public backlash from Minnesota farmers, the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) retreated from their April 2 proposal amending the administrative penalty order (APO) for the implementation of buffers under Minnesota’s buffer law that would have levied stiff fines on farmers due to noncompliance.

“Hearing…the concerns of farmers, I now realize that the draft APO we put out for public comment is not in the spirit of the law,” BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke admitted in a letter to Minnesota ag organizations. “(W)e did not highlight the potential concerns or give full consideration to the potential impacts to farmers.”

Without the amendment, MN Statutes 103B Subd. 12a clearly states that a county or watershed district with jurisdiction or BWSR may issue a fine “up to $500 per parcel” for landowners in noncompliance.

According to BWSR’s ill-advised proposal, farmers who failed to attain compliance after an 11-month period would have been subject to an annual fine on a per-linear basis. Farmers were initially told any potential fines would be limited to $500 per parcel.

“MSGA took a hard stance on this issue and we rallied the agricultural community,” said Vice President Jamie Beyer. “Clearly Gov. Dayton heard the voice of our MSGA members and all family farmers. I think it’s also a testament to the idea that we are stronger when we all stand together.”

MSGA will continue to follow any developments in St. Paul and ensure BWSR adheres to the spirit of the buffer law.

“We are sorry for the concerns we raised with your members and Minnesota farmers,” Jaschke wrote, adding that he expects the proposal to be officially rejected when BWSR’s committee meets next week.

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Dayton issued his own statement distancing himself from BSWR’s proposal. 

Click here to read MSGA’s initial response to the proposed amendment released last week.