MSGA President’s Perspective: Water Quality an Issue for All

Some leaders feel they are Nobel and Wright in attacking water quality issues. The problem is Frank and Lloyd Wright flew and Alfred Nobel made dynamite, and flying in and dropping bombs on the dialog is not productive unless your intent is making enemies.

We live in an advanced society, one that recognizes solutions will be complicated. A one-size fits all plan rarely works as a solution to many of our problems because as a society, we focus on advancement.

This past year on the buffer dialog, the main point of contention was totally missed by most. As farmers, businessmen and hopefully providers of a better way of life for our children, we are always looking for advancements.

Simplistic ideas usually do not offer the best solutions.

Water quality has long been a priority for farmers. We welcome the recent upsurge in awareness of water quality concerns by the public and political community; we are all in this together.

What are we really talking about when it comes to water quality? It has to be a big topic when more than two thirds of the world is covered by water and half of U.S land is covered by water. The situation is eye-opening when you think about it in terms of the future needs of mankind. A very strict scrutiny shows only about 3 percent of all the water is fit for human consumption.

Do we want it all refined down equal to a bottle of Perrier. Most life forms, including walleye, would cease if we pursued that radical thought. Water is the common equilibrium for life. Life in the water is vibrant, supporting single-cell organisms to large whales like I saw in California last March. The water serves many purposes — it holds food for its inhabitants, it absorbs waste (yes poop), provides oxygen for fish, and helps buffer temperature fluctuations, plus many more functions.

Do farmers want to upset the many functions of water? Of course not. Being focused on advancement, we will try things that at the time are based on best present knowledge.

As more knowledge is gained, new directions will be pursued.

Piling on rules does not guarantee success. It is important that we all work together on these issues and work toward a common goal. 

So at times, if farmers sound impatient with the process it is because we want better tools and knowledge to make advancements.

Let us all work together. We have the ability to come up with great solutions.

They probably will be complex though.

Paul Freeman is President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and farms near Starbuck, Minn. He can be reached at