State agriculture officials got an earful from farmers about Minnesota’s nitrogen fertilizer rule during a town hall meeting this week in Mankato. Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson says they’re trying to figure out the most reasonable way to approach it. He says, “We’re getting a pretty good sense of that. The proposed rule will change, but we want to hear from everyone.” The rule is designed to minimize nitrate pollution in groundwater.
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to put conservation practices in place that protect water. Frederickson says there are currently 432 farms certified statewide, representing more than a quarter million acres, and 390 applications in process.
Farmers also voiced continued concern over commodity prices at the Mankato town hall meeting. Commissioner Frederickson says there isn’t a lot that can be done at the state level, but they’re taking whatever steps possible – including raising the biodiesel blend to 20 percent blend next summer. He says, “When we went and mandated B-10, biodiesel 10, that brought an additional 63 cents a bushel to soybeans. If we mandate B-20, that should bring another 60 to 63 cents.”
Fredrickson says they’ve also been reaching out to new export markets, including Cuba. He adds that one-third of the Minnesota’s overall exports are agriculture related, and the state is number one in turkey production nationwide, number two for hogs, has the third-highest soybean production in the U.S. and fourth for corn.