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State Representative Jeff Howe

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For more information contact: Chad Urdahl 651-296-5520

Posted: 2017-05-11
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Press Release

Howe urges governor to compromise on buffers


 

ST. PAUL – State Rep. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, is adding his voice to the growing bipartisan coalition of legislators, agriculture, and other stakeholders urging Gov. Mark Dayton to compromise on changes to the state buffer law set to go into effect later this year.

Howe said that, to date, Dayton has flatly refused to even discuss changes, despite a broad coalition of farmers, agriculture groups, legislators, and others who are urging changes to make it more fair and workable for landowners and local units of government.

“This buffer issue has been causing headaches for both landowners and officials as the enforcement date nears,” Howe said. “There is so much confusion and questionable land determinations that we are better off delaying enforcement so reasonable solutions can be identified. I encourage the governor to rethink his position on this issue and take the time to work with us and find reasonable solutions.”

On Thursday, a long list of county commissioners and agriculture groups including the Minnesota Farmers Union, the Minnesota Farm Bureau, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, and many others sent a letter to Governor Dayton and legislative leaders urging them to find a workable compromise citing the challenges facing farmers to meet existing implementation dates.

If a compromise cannot be found on changes to the law, the groups requested at the very least that Dayton delay implementation to give landowners and local governments more time to comply with buffer mandates.

The Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee report sent to the governor on Monday includes changes to the buffer law including:

  • Moving implementation dates to November 2019 for public waters, and 2020 for public drainage systems, to give farmers additional time to comply with requirements
  • Clarifying that all public ditches are subject to the long-standing 16.5 foot buffer requirement -- the original intent of the legislature.
  • Preventing buffer laws from being enforced on farmers unless federal or state cost-share dollars are available to cover 100% of the cost associated with installing the buffer to ensure it does not act as an unfunded mandate.
 

 

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