Governor asked to compromise on Buffer Law
State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, is adding his voice to the growing bipartisan coalition of legislators, agriculture, and other stakeholders urging Gov. Mark Dayton to compromise on changes to the state buffer law set to go into effect later this year.
To date, Dayton has flatly refused to even discuss changes, despite a broad coalition of farmers, agriculture groups, legislators, and others who are urging changes to make it more fair and workable for landowners and local units of government.
“This buffer issue has been a debacle since the day the governor went public with his proposal,” Swedzinski said. “There is such much confusion, questionable land determination and uncertainty over alternative practices that it is fallacy to think this is ready for enforcement. The governor’s inflexibility on this issue is only going to further strain relations and put both landowners and local officials in a tough spot. We need him to take a step back and work with us on finding common-sense resolutions.”
On Thursday, a long list of county commissioners and agriculture groups including the Minnesota Farmers Union, the Minnesota Farm Bureau, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, and many others sent a letter to Dayton and legislative leaders urging them to find a workable compromise citing the challenges facing farmers to meet existing implementation dates.
If a compromise cannot be found on changes to the law, the groups requested at the very least that Dayton delay implementation to give landowners and local governments more time to comply with buffer mandates.
The Environment and Natural Resources Conference Committee report sent to the governor on Monday includes changes to the buffer law including:
•Moving implementation dates to November 2019 for public waters, and 2020 for public drainage systems, to give farmers additional time to comply with requirements
•Clarifying that all public ditches are subject to the long-standing 16.5 foot buffer requirement -- the original intent of the legislature.
•Preventing buffer laws from being enforced on farmers unless federal or state cost-share dollars are available to cover 100% of the cost associated with installing the buffer to ensure it does not act as an unfunded mandate.