As the deadlines for buffer establishment approach, farmers and local SWCD technicians continue to gather information on implementation under the current law. Meanwhile, legislators are grappling with proposals to further clarify requirements and implementation details of the new buffer requirements.
The Board of Water and Soil Resources continues to develop guidance for landowners and local government units, particularly in the areas of enforcement and validation of alternative practices, a list of conservation practices that could be implemented in lieu of buffers under the current law.
Legislative proposals include funding provided to counties and watershed districts for implementation, reduction of buffer requirements on some public waters to 16.5 feet, and delaying deadlines. At this point it is unclear what the final language will contain. Landowners should stay in contact with their local SWCD and farm group representatives to stay informed of this evolving issue.
Also this month, an op-ed from state agency leaders applauds Minnesota farmers and landowners for their tremendous efforts in getting buffers in place, noting that about 75% of counties have more than 60% of necessary buffers in place.