Under an agreement between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program in Louisiana, eligibility for loans to implement Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) in Minnesota will be expanded to include larger livestock operations.
A formal Letter of Understanding was recently signed recognizing the importance of coordinating pollution prevention efforts throughout the Mississippi River watershed both locally in Minnesota and in distant downstream areas including the receiving waters of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary has developed a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan recommending practices that can be implemented from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the delta that will ultimately reduce sediment and nutrient loading to the estuary area and the gulf. With Minnesota’s formal recognition of the Barataria-Terrebonne management plan, eligibility for the MDA’s AgBMP Loan Program will be expanded to include livestock operations holding National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits or those operations with more than 1,000 animal units.
“All along the Mississippi River, we need to work with our partners and follow the same road map to manage the watershed while still recognizing that people and communities use the land in a variety of ways,” said MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Expanding the number of farm operations eligible for AgBMP loans here in the Mississippi River’s headwaters state is another step toward managing and protecting this important watershed.”
This Letter of Understanding recognizes that pollution does not stop at state boundaries and that a multi-state perspective should be considered when addressing pollution problems. In addition to the expanded eligibility options and guidance, the understanding establishes regular reporting and communications between the two organizations.
Since its inception in 1995, the MDA AgBMP Loan Program has issued more than 13,000 low interest loans to Minnesota businesses and landowners financing over $220 million for projects addressing erosion, runoff, manure management, septic treatment, and drinking water problems.
Margaret Hart, Communications Director