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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Urdahl urges governor to compromise on buffer enforcement

Thursday, May 11, 2017

 

ST. PAUL – State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, 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.

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.

“Concerns we are hearing on this issue are not going to go away – and in a number of ways may only get worse – if the current track toward enforcement continues,” Urdahl said. “Since releasing their first buffer map last July, several thousand change requests have been received from local units of government and DNR staff. Citizens want to do the right thing to protect our waters, but there is widespread confusion over exactly what that means from landowner to landowner. I encourage the governor to rethink his position on this issue and take the time to work with us and find a reasonable solution.”

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 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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