Public hearings before an administrative law judge on Minnesota’s proposed Groundwater Protection Rule are being held around the state.
Two hearings remain:
• Wednesday, July 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at River’s Edge Convention Center, St. Cloud, Minn.
• Thursday, July 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the American Legion, Park Rapids, Minn.
At the first public hearing, held July 16 in Farmington, Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Kirby Hettver provided testimony on behalf of the state’s corn growers.
Hettver, who farms in DeGraff, offered comments that detailed MCGA’s work with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture through the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan process, as well as steps taken by corn growers to increase their nitrogen use efficiency.
Hettver highlighted the importance of the state’s corn sector, with 2017 corn production valued at more than $4.5 billion. As production has grown, Hettver stressed, so has corn growers’ commitment to conservation, including increasing nitrogen use efficiency while maintaining production levels.
MCGA and its farmer-members also remain committed to the goal of becoming the most sustainable and environmentally responsible corn farmers in the nation — an announcement the organization made in 2016. To reach this ambitious objective, Hettver testified that Minnesota’s corn growers have invested more than $6 million since 2014 in third-party research to develop the best nitrogen management practices. He also discussed the farmer-led efforts through the Innovation Grant program focused on reducing nitrogen loss.
To help bring nitrogen-focused research to the field, Hettver detailed farmer-funded education efforts, primarily though the Nitrogen Smart program, which more than 600 Minnesota farmers have attended.
Prior to Hettver’s testimony, officials announced that the written comment period for the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule was extended until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 15.
For farmers who are unable to attend a hearing, the additional two weeks provides more time to submit written comments during the busy summer months.
There is also a five-day rebuttal comment period from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22.
To learn more about the rule, visit mda.state.mn.us/nfr.
To comment on the rule, go to the MDA hearing webpage to submit a comment.
Source: Minnesota Corn Growers, Minnesota Department of Agriculture