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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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Friday, May 12, 2017

ST. PAUL, MN—State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) is adding his voice to the growing bipartisan coalition of legislators, agriculture, and other stakeholders urging Governor Dayton to compromise on changes to the state buffer law set to go into effect later this year.


To date, Governor Dayton has flatly refused to even discuss the topic, despite a broad coalition of farmers, agriculture groups, legislators, and others who need the law to change to make it more fair and workable for landowners and local units of government.


"Since the passage of Governor Dayton’s buffer bill in 2015, farmers across the state have raised many legitimate questions and concerns about the law,” Torkelson said. “Unfortunately Governor Dayton is showing little interest in working with those who will have to implement and live under the law, and that needs to change.”


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 Governor 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.