ST. PAUL – In an effort to enforce an antiquated and unused rule, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has issued new regulations dealing with ditch mowing. State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said the turmoil surrounding these rules has been overwhelmingly negative.
“Farmers have been mowing ditches for decades before MnDOT came forward with these unusual and unexpected requirements,” Torkelson said. “There’s no reason to not give adjacent landowners some control over how their ditches are maintained.”
MnDOT now requires anyone who wants to mow and bale road ditch hay in a state right-of-way to apply for a permit from MnDOT. Other new requirements include forcing tractor drivers to wear a certain color safety vest when they mow, and equipping that tractor with a specific flashing light.
Torkelson said legislation addressing this issue has already begun to make its way through the House committee process. That proposal prohibits road authorities from regulating when ditches may be mowed and also prevents them from requiring permits for mowing.
“Farmers are actually doing a great service to MnDOT by mowing ditches on their own,” Torkelson said. “If they didn’t, ditches would be full of noxious weeds and then the transportation department would be forced to spend substantially to maintain them.”