Letter to the Editor: Buffer Law Needs Clarity

The following letter to the editor was submitted to the StarTribune in response to Dennis Anderson's May 4 column "Buffers: the truth and untruths" on behalf of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.

In his May 4 column “Buffers: the truths and untruths,” Dennis Anderson makes the case that there is much misinformation about the state’s buffer law, which requires farmers and other landowners to be in compliance with the statute by November. There are critical modifications that are needed for this law to be effectively implemented.

After legislation was passed in 2015, legislators like Rep. Fabian (R-Roseau) held meetings with farmers, landowners and local governments, where the message was clear from one end of the state to the other that there are provisions of the buffer law that need clarity for proper implementation. The law is causing confusion among farmers and local government officials who will enforce the statute.

There are questions which need to be answered so farmers and landowners can work together with local governments to fully implement this complicated law. Just last month, the Board of Water and Soil Resources released a list of approved alternative practices with more information forthcoming. This timing makes it extremely difficult for landowners to decide and implement alternatives prior to the beginning of planting season, which has already begun.

These alternative practices are crucial to allowing farmers the flexibility to implement strategies that will work best for their land and geographical area of the state.

We appreciate leaders like Rep. Fabian and others who are willing to work with us toward making sure this gets done right.