Nearly 450,000 Acres of Farmland Now Enrolled in Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program
Minnesota farmers and landowners have implemented conservation measures on hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland since 2014. Recently compiled statistics show the impact the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) has had on the state’s water quality protection efforts.
The MAWQCP was initiated through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in January 2012, by Governor Mark Dayton, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Since the build-out of the program in 2014, the Ag Water Quality Certification Program has:
-Enrolled nearly 450,000 acres;
-Included 680 producers;
-Added more than 1,300 new conservation practices;
-Kept over 48.1 million pounds of sediment out of Minnesota rivers;
-Saved 122 million pounds of soil and 28,291 pounds of phosphorous on farms; and
-Reduced nitrogen losses by up to 49 percent.
“This is excellent news. I want to thank the 680 Minnesota farmers and landowners who have voluntarily committed to improving the quality of water that all Minnesotans drink,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “I also thank Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and the many talented professionals at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, for their outstanding leadership on this initiative. This program’s positive impacts will endure far beyond this current Administration, and significantly improve our state’s water quality for generations to come.”
The MAWQCP was developed to recognize and inspire conservation efforts and connect farmers with resources to continue enhancing their water-quality practices. The voluntary program gives certified farmers 10 years of compliance with new water quality laws and regulations. It is an award winning public-private partnership that now includes companies like Land O’Lakes, Hormel Foods, and Central Farm Service Cooperative.
“We all need to work together to help protect Minnesota’s ground and surface water,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program, along with our partners, are helping family farms ensure a legacy of sustainability that will benefit generations to come.”
According to a recent survey of 250 certified producers, nearly 63 percent say they participate in the Ag Water Quality Certified Program to demonstrate their commitment to water stewardship, while 99 percent say they are likely to recommend the program to others. Survey participants also say the use of the MAQWCP as a marketing opportunity is one of the top four reasons they participated in the program.
Forsman Farms in Wright County was recently certified into the program. The family sees the opportunities that the program gives to their operation.
“We are proud to be part of the water quality certification program and it is important that we run our farm in a sustainable manner so that we will continue farming for generations,” said Peter Forsman, owner and Chief Financial Officer of Forsman Farms. “Minnesota is known for its beautiful lakes and waterways. Our customers are proud that we manage our farms in a way to protect our state’s greatest resource. Without clean water we all suffer.”
The farm began in 1918 with Albert Forsman farming 120 acres and selling chicks from his flock. Today, Peter and Dave Forsman handle the day-to-day duties of running 1,000 acres, multiple egg farms, and an egg processing facility. The fourth generation farm is installing two filter strips, treating their open tile intakes, and refining their phosphorus nutrient management for their certification.
Farmers and landowners who are interested in learning more about the MAWCP should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or visit MyLandMyLegacy.com.
About the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. After a successful pilot phase in 2014-2015, the program is now available to farmers and landowners statewide. To date, the program has certified 680 farms totaling nearly 450,000 acres.