Ample Opportunity For Farm Voices At Water Discussions

Northstar Notes

There are listening sessions, watershed councils, meetings - all need farmer input.

Published on: February 25, 2013

Water quality continues to be a huge topic for discussion around the state.

Everywhere you turn—or as you read emails, tweets and other online posts—some group or entity is having a meeting or public discussion on water quality.

Right now, you have the opportunity to weigh in on the new ag water quality certification program at two more listening sessions sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Those are:

6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26, Mankato, South Central College Conference Room A

1-3 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, St. Cloud, Minnesota Department of Transportation Training Center

MDA folks as well as advisory committee members have attended the previous four sessions. Each session begins informally with a half-hour for meeting people and then opens with a presentation about the voluntary program. Those in attendance are welcome to comment throughout and at the conclusion of the meeting.

Other venues for farmers to give input include:

-New Agricultural Watershed Councils, led by local farmers with support from the Minnesota Ag Water Resources Council. They are currently active in Swift, Chippewa, Kandiyohi & Pope Counties, and Blue Earth, Faribault, Waseca, Freeborn, Steele & LeSueur Counties. AWCs work to keep farmers informed about TMDLs, county water planning, local water concerns, advances in farming practices and other subjects. AWC members work with the MAWRC to identify relevant topics and resource people to address them, then plan events specifically tailored to local farmers, such as a winter educational forum or a summer field day.

-The Mississippi River Forum provides a way for a cross-section of citizens and decision-makers to connect and learn how their work impacts the quality of the river. The next forum meeting will be held 9-10 a.m., Friday, March 15 in St. Cloud. The topic is "Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative," led by St. Cloud mayor Dave Kleis. The free session will be held in the St. Cloud City Council Chambers, 400-2nd Street South, St. Cloud. A light breakfast will be provided. Last year, mayors from more than 20 cities along the main stem of the Mississippi River launched a new effort to bring national attention back to America's Great Waterway. The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative seeks to create a new and influential voice for the Mississippi River and to demand effective river protection, restoration, and management in Washington, D.C. Kleis is the co-chair of this national coalition. He will share MRCTI's efforts to address clean water and habitat, sustainable river city economies, and recreational opportunities. Then he heads to D.C. to unveil the MRCTI's policy platform.

Make the time to attend one of these meetings in the next month before the spring thaw diverts your attention. We need farmers at these meetings to explain crop management, drainage and conservation practices.