Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MDA to hold listening sessions on new ag water quality certification program

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will hold listening sessions at six locations throughout the state in February to gather input on the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. The new program has been in development over the past year and is designed to accelerate voluntary adoption of on-farm agricultural practices that enhance water quality.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says farmers and rural landowners are encouraged to attend these sessions to provide feedback on the program prior to its implementation.

“We want to ensure this program delivers what it should for farmers and for the environment,” said Frederickson. “We want to hear from farmers and others about the proposed program while we’re in the planning stage.”

Under the program, farmers would voluntarily implement and maintain approved conservation plans and receive assurance that their operations meet water quality goals and standards. In return, they would not be required to implement additional water quality practices for the duration of their certification.

The listening session dates, times, and locations are as follows:

Worthington: Monday, February 4, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., MN West Community College Commons

Stewartville: Tuesday, February 12, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., Stewartville Community Center

Roseville: Tuesday, February 19, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., Ramsey Co. Library - Roseville Community Room

Crookston: Thursday, February 21, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., University of Minnesota, Crookston Ballroom

Mankato: Tuesday, February 26, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., South Central College, Conference Room A

St. Cloud: Thursday, February 28, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., MNDOT Training Center

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is the result of a state-federal partnership that includes the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).