1K state farmers, landowners now enrolled in water quality program

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, February 17, 2021

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The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) has reached the milestone of enrolling 1,000 farmers and landowners from across the state. Now, more than 715,000 acres of land are helping to protect the state’s water resources.

“Water quality is important to all Minnesotans, especially those that care for the land, and we want to thank everyone that has stepped up to protect and restore our state’s lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater through the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “We can be assured these certified farmers are managing their operations to protect water quality now and into the future.”

Among the five that helped send the numbers over the 1,000 mark was Ron Frank, who

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farms 566 acres and practices no-till and strip-till and has advanced nutrient management.

With funding assistance from a MAWQCP supplemental grant, Frank will be installing two new grassed waterways. He also has plans to try cover crops.

Frank said he cares about supporting the next generation of farmers and works closely with his nephew. He is also invested in his community and is active with the Minnesota Farm Bureau, various county committees, the local Lions Club, and local government.

“One of the reasons I became certified is to reinforce our ongoing effort to improve and maintain water and soil quality for future generations,” Frank said. “This has always been a focus, even when my dad farmed the land.”

The MAWQCP puts farmers in touch with local conservation district experts to identify and mitigate any risks their farm poses to water quality. Producers going through the certification process have priority access to financial assistance. After being certified, each farm is deemed in compliance with new water quality laws and regulations for 10 years.

Since the start of the program in 2014, the Ag Water Quality Certification Program has:

• Added more than 2,050 new conservation practices

• Kept near 38,500 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers

• Saved 110,000 tons of soil and 48,500 pounds of phosphorous on farms

• Reduced nitrogen losses by up to 49 percent

• Reduced the equivalent of over 39,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year

There are also extra endorsements available to water quality certified producers for soil health, integrated pest management, and wildlife. These endorsements celebrate farmers and landowners who are going above and beyond to implement conservation efforts on their land.

The program is on target to meet Governor Tim Walz’s goal of enrolling one million acres by the end of 2022.

Farmers and landowners interested in becoming water quality certified can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or visit MyLandMyLegacy.com.