Buffer law meets with frustration, but lawmakers urge compliance
REDWOOD FALLS -- Many farmers are skeptical and upset by the state's new buffer legislation, but one of the state's largest farm groups and legislators involved in drafting the bill are urging them to comply with it.
REDWOOD FALLS - Many farmers are skeptical and upset by the state’s new buffer legislation, but one of the state’s largest farm groups and legislators involved in drafting the bill are urging them to comply with it.
Anna Boroff, with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, told an estimated 40 or more farmers attending a meeting Wednesday in Redwood Falls that the organization does not plan to challenge the buffer legislation in the courts, as some of those present urged. The meeting was offered to provide information on the law’s requirements.
“It is our land. Our government is taking our land rights away from us,’’ said Don Swoboda, a Renville County farmer.
His objection to what some see as illegal was among a number of concerns raised by those attending the meeting. Some questioned whether the legislation would do much to improve water quality. Others voiced opinions that the law represents an unneeded burden that will stymie innovation and real progress towards improving water quality.
“I know there is a little bit of pain here for some guys, that’s absolutely true, but I tried to share the pain equally across the landscape, ’’ said State Representative Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, the bill’s chief author, in addressing the concerns expressed.
He emphasized that the bill maintains local control and represents a much better outcome for farmers than the legislation the governor proposed.
Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said many in the farming community view the legislation as a matter of losing 16.5 feet of cropland along every dredge ditch. Yet he and others noted that the one-rod buffer requirement has been in place since the late 1970s, but until now, has only been triggered when there is a re-determination of benefits in a ditch system. The new law moves the requirement up to November 2017 for all systems.