MSGA president says nitrogen rule could be a game changer

As more details emerge, the president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers says the proposed nitrogen fertilizer rule could be a game changer for agriculture.

The Minnesota Department of Ag (MDA) will publish the rule–now being called the Groundwater Protection Rule—April 30th, with an 80-day comment period to follow.

Michael Petefish, who farms near Claremont in southeast Minnesota, says as currently worded, the rule changes the definition of nitrogen.

“And that’s sort of the sleeper that no one is paying attention to because they are changing the definition of nitrogen to something along the lines of any nitrogen-containing substance applied to a field used to promote plant growth.”

He tells Brownfield that language would allow the Ag Department to regulate common nitrogen fertilizers like MAP, DAP, and manure, as well as irrigation water.

“Water has nitrogen in it.  It basically allows them to regulate every single thing that goes on your farm, and that’s how these things progress.  They sneak some language change in, or they make a small change now that people say ‘ah, we can live with that.’  And it’s setting up the next governor or the next administration that wants to take a run at agriculture with all the tools they need to further compound the regulations.”

The Department of Agriculture says the goal of the Groundwater Protection Rule is to work with local farmers to reduce elevated nitrate levels in groundwater to ensure clean water.

Petefish claims the rule addresses perceptions, not the problem.

“There’s nothing in this (rule) that helps farmers.  And this is purely optics.  The Governor wants to appear to be doing something on water quality, so rather than actually trying to understand the problem and come up with a solution…this sounds good and looks good.  It’s a solution in search of a problem.”

Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson says while traveling the state last summer, he promised farmers the rule would have a healthy dose of common sense, adding “I think we have achieved that.”






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