Buffer law work begins after harvest ends

Farm Forum

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota farmers remain divided over the new state buffer law, which will start being implemented as the harvest ends.

The buffer law requires permanent vegetation strips to protect lakes and streams from farm field runoff. The deadline for fully implementing the law is November 2017, Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/2fUh0aM) reported.

Farmers are divided because buffers cause them to lose acres of land.

“Nobody likes to lose any acreage but on this case, I think it’s for the benefit of the soil and the water,” said Otter Tail County farmer Don Viger.

The Soil and Water Conservation District are using aerial photos to identify about 1,100 parcels of land that are out of compliance with the new law. Owners of that land also received letters saying where they need to add buffers.

Stan Overgaard, an opponent to the buffer law, said he challenges the idea of giving up farmland for state-mandated buffers.

“I don’t know if it’s right for government to simply to come in and take it,” Overgaard said. “It just doesn’t seem right to me.”

He said he uses the university recommended farming practices that reduce erosion and fertilizer runoff. Overgaard said he wants the data that proves the lake is polluted.

“That’s the troubling part to a lot of farmers. There’s no science behind it,” Overgaard said. “We’ve been brushed with a broad stroke. Saying we are all guilty.”