Update on Minnesota Buffer Law

Tom Meersman┬áreported in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune that, “Minnesota farmers will be given extra time and in some cases financial help to comply with the state’s buffer law that requires them to plant perennial vegetation between crops and creeks.

“The changes were included in bills signed Tuesday by Gov. Mark Dayton.

“But farm groups say the changes don’t go far enough, and environmental leaders object to how the measure would be funded.”

Graphic from today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Today’s article explained that, “The law, passed in 2015, seeks to improve water quality by requiring buffer strips along ditches and waterways to help slow down and filter runoff from farm fields that might contain sediment, phosphorus, pesticides and other chemicals.

“It was set to go into effect Nov. 1, and requires strips at least 30 feet wide and an average of 50 feet from public streams, creeks, rivers and lakes, or an alternative method of conservation that provides equal or better water quality benefits. It also applies to public ditches that feed into waterways, and requires 16.5-foot buffers along them to be planted by Nov. 1, 2018.

“Farmers and farm groups complained that the deadlines were unrealistic, but Dayton considers the law one of his signature accomplishments and pushed back against attempts to delay or weaken it.”

Mr. Meersman added that, “In the end, lawmakers and the governor’s office agreed on a plan that allows farmers to apply for an automatic waiver that gives them until July 1, 2018, to install buffers or alternative measures along the public waterways. The deadline for ditches was not changed.”

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