Ag Water Quality Certification Program wins Environmental Award

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and their partners were selected as a winner for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program in the Food Stewardship category at the 2015 Environmental Initiative Awards. This program annually honors innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership. Winners were announced at the Environmental Initiative Awards celebration on Thursday, May 21, in Minneapolis.

“This award is a testament to the strong partnerships needed to address Minnesota’s environmental challenges,” said MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Our federal, state, local, private and nonprofit partners have been invaluable in the development and implementation of this program and we look forward to our continued partnership helping farmers protect Minnesota’s water resources.”

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Farmers and landowners who implement and maintain approved farm management practices are certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for 10 years.

Over the past eight months, agricultural operations at 41 farms representing more than 23,000 acres of land have been certified. More than 145 new conservation practices that protect Minnesota’s waters from nonpoint source pollution have also been implemented. The goal is to deliver certification services to all agricultural producers in the state within five years.

“Each spring we gather to recognize individuals, organizations, businesses and communities who have joined forces to create a better environment for all Minnesotans,” said Environmental Initiative’s Executive Director, Mike Harley. “It’s really important to celebrate and share these success stories – because working together is hard work and isn’t always easy.”

Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council Director Bill Zurn, of Callaway, Minn., and Minnesota Soybean Director of Environmental Affairs Joe Smentek both serve on the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program advisory board. Zurn is a farmer representative on the board but does not represent MSR&PC, while Smentek serves on the board as a representative for commodity associations.

About Environmental Initiative
Environmental Initiative is a nonprofit organization that builds partnerships to develop collaborative solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems. The organization brings together leaders from nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies to find consensus on critical issues and respond with actions that have measurable, positive environmental outcomes. Learn more at www.environmental-initiative.org/.