The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) has surpassed 300 certified farms, marking a year of strong growth with a milestone. This voluntary program works with farmers and landowners to identify and mitigate risks to water quality on a field by field basis. The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program has certified 306 farms representing virtually every kind of agricultural production from all across the state.
The 300th farm certified is the Twin Eagle Dairy operated by Pat and Jody Lunemann in Todd County. The Lunemann’s milk 800 cows and farm 1,500 acres of corn, alfalfa and grass to help feed their herd.
“We wanted to get certified to demonstrate that we are doing the best job we can to make sure we have clean water,” said Pat Lunemann. “Initially, we didn’t know what to expect with the program, but as we worked with our local certification specialists we found solutions that worked for our farm and protected the water.”
The MAWQCP is delivered in partnership with the Board of Water & Soil Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Department of Natural Resources, and Minnesota’s 89 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD). Through this collaborative effort, the state agencies and SWCDs are able to leverage their individual strengths to work together to recognize and reward farmers for their work protecting Minnesota’s most iconic natural resource. This innovative model of conservation planning and delivery has created a program that has been embraced by Minnesota’s farm and livestock producers. In 2016 alone, the MAWQCP certified 221 farms and 125,000 acres.
“The success of the Ag Water Certification Program reaffirms that no one cares more about water quality than Minnesota farmers,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I want to thank the Ag producers who have already participated in the program, and reiterate my continued commitment to building a collaborative relationship between state government and Minnesota farmers.”
The 306 farms certified by the MAWQCP represent over 175,000 acres of working lands. To date, these farms have generated 531 new best management practices that are keeping 14.7 million pounds of soil on Minnesota fields annually, and keeping 9.7 million pounds of sediment and 6,086 pounds of phosphorous from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams annually.
After being certified, each farm is deemed to be in compliance with new water quality laws and regulations for 10 years. Certification is also an approved practice farmers can use to comply with the new state buffer law. Certified farmers and landowners can use their certification status to promote their businesses as protective of water quality. Those interested in the program can contact their local SWCD office or visit MyLandMyLegacy.com.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications