MANKATO — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz lauded ag producers for meeting the challenges of supplying food during the pandemic and for their dedication in protecting their soil and water.
"In the last couple of years, it came home to people," Walz said of the importance of the food supply chain.
"When people first started talking about the pandemic, they were talking about the food supply."
Producers, he said, did what they needed to prevent serious food shortages.
"I think people took it for granted before."
Walz spoke at the MN Ag Expo on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center. The event, sponsored by the Minnesota Corn Growers and Soybean Growers associations, continues Thursday.
The governor touted the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, saying it's an example of voluntary collaboration that protects soil and water, with incentives giving participants more profits. Farmers who enroll pledge to employ certain conservation practices and receive incentives, including being protected from any new water regulations that are initiated while they are in the program.
"The idea was we could incentivize, and the producers would be there to protect their most valuable resource — the soil."
He said the program creates success without overregulation. "We do it together."
Walz said the soil here is as rich as anywhere in the world and producers have always worked to protect it.
"Minnesota is becoming the hub for soil protection and water quality."
The program was first introduced as a pilot in 2014 and identifies field-by-field risks to water quality and ways to mitigate them. A number of private agribusinesses have partnered to help promote and expand the program.
The governor said the program has already shown improvements in water quality in areas where it's used and has increased profits on enrolled land by 20%.
"It's a success," Walz said.
So far 800,000 acres of farmland are enrolled and there are more farmers who want to participate but say they've faced barriers. Walz said his budget includes $27 million in new funding to help overcome those barriers and expand the program, with a goal of having 1 million acres in the program by the end of this year.
(c)2022 The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Source : https://www.postbulletin.com/news/minnesota/minnesota-gov-walz-promotes-water-quality-certification-at-ag-expo457