Governor Tim Walz today announced a goal of enrolling one million acres in a voluntary agricultural program that protects the state’s water resources by the end of 2022.
Since the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program’s (MAWQCP) inception in 2014, 977 farms totaling over 685,000 acres have been certified across Minnesota.
“This is a key effort to ensure our lakes, rivers, and drinking water are protected for future generations,” said Governor Walz.
“Minnesota’s natural resources are a unique part of our state and culture. Farmers understand this. They are stewards of our land and water and are already helping protect these resources.”
Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality certified farms have added nearly 2,000 new conservation practices, including over 110,000 acres of new cover crops, that protect Minnesota’s waters.
Those new practices have kept over 38,000 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers while saving nearly 108,000 tons of soil and 48,000 pounds of phosphorous on farms each year.
The conservation practices have also reduced nitrogen loss up to 49% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 39,000 tons per year.
“We already know that certified farms have a major impact on our environment for the better, but the certification program is also good for our ag economy,” said Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen.
“Early research has shown that farmers who implement conservation practices and become certified can increase crop yields and overall farm income. This provides more stability during these uncertain times, and I encourage farmers and landowners to looking into the advantages of certifying their land.”
The MAWQCP puts farmers in touch with local conservation district experts to identify and mitigate any risks their farm poses to water quality.
Producers going through the certification process have priority access to financial assistance.
After being certified, each farm is deemed in compliance with new water quality laws and regulations for 10 years.
Farmers and landowners interested in becoming water quality certified can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or visit MyLandMyLegacy.com.