The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and its Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) were recently honored by the Pheasants Forever, Inc. for helping implement wildlife habitat across the state.
The MDA and MAWQCP were given the Brood Booster Award at the Pheasants Forever Minnesota State Convention in Alexandria. The award honors the agency/individual responsible for significant conservation implementation and habitat gains on private ground through collaboration with farmers and the delivery of State and Federal farm programs.
“As a lifelong member of Pheasants Forever, I am proud of the work being done by our Department of Agriculture to improve our water quality, while benefiting Minnesota’s wildlife,” said Governor Tim Walz. “This type of collaboration is One Minnesota in action, with farmers and conservationists coming together to improve our state.”
“The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has supported our precision agriculture initiative with our focus on farmer profitability through conservation alternatives that make financial sense for the farmer,” said Tanner Bruse, Ag & Conservation Programs Manager (MN) for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “In addition to the MDA, we also recognize the success and on-the-ground results of the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification program. Not only has this had an impact on soil and water conservation, but this work has also added acres of grassland in Minnesota that will expand nesting and brood rearing habitat for pheasants along with a host of other benefits to many other wildlife species.”
“We thank Pheasants Forever for this recognition,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “We are proud of our work to help famers improve water quality and implement conservation practices that help pheasants and other wildlife all while focusing on management and profitability.
The MAWQCP was developed to recognize and inspire conservation efforts and connect farmers with resources to continue enhancing their water-quality practices. To date, the Ag Water Quality Certification Program has:
- Enrolled over 450,000 acres;
- Included nearly 700 producers;
- Added more than 1,300 new conservation practices;
- Kept over 50 million pounds of sediment out of Minnesota rivers;
- Saved 127 million pounds of soil and nearly 30,000 pounds of phosphorous on farms; and
- Reduced nitrogen losses by up to 49 percent.
The voluntary program gives certified farmers’ 10 years of compliance with new water quality laws and regulations.
Pheasants Forever’s precision ag initiative is possible thanks to the following financial support: the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (AGRI), Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and the McKnight Foundation.
About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 149,000 members and 725 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $784 million on 530,000 habitat projects benefiting 17 million acres nationwide.
About the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. After a successful pilot phase in 2014-2015, the program is now available to farmers and landowners statewide. To date, the program has certified over nearly 700 farms totaling more than 450,000 acres. More information is available at MyLandMyLegacy.com.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications