The editorial board of the Star Tribune has weighed on the Brown County Board of Commissioners' refusal to take Minnesota Department of Agriculture funds to test wells for nitrates.
Bluestem's been looking at the board's actions since our December 20 post, Nitrates: Brown Co turns down MDA well testing aid because somebody might blame farmers. At the Star Tribune, Josephine Marcotty took on the issue with the December 31 article, Test our water for nitrates? Minnesota county says no thanks.
In Brown County commissioners failed citizens by rejecting well testing, the editorial board reveals some new insights from one of the county commissioners:
To his credit, Brown County Commissioner Tony Berg responded last week to an editorial writer’s pointed questions about the board’s failure to support the testing. Berg, a farmer who opposed the plan, said he didn’t think the tests should be paid for by state tax dollars. He also had questions about accuracy and cost.
But the key reason, Berg said, is that many farmers believe the state will unfairly blame agriculture for any nitrate pollution they find. And then, they fear, state officials will use the data to heavily regulate fertilizer use. “There’s a lot of mistrust,” he said.
That explanation is appreciated but still frustrating. Berg and the influential special interests who cheered the decision, such as the Brown County Farm Bureau, are apparently more afraid of regulation than the contamination that might be found. That’s ludicrous, given nitrates’ potential to harm infants. Parents in the area should be up in arms.
Berg’s comment about “mistrust” is also disappointing. No one representing the state was at the County Board meeting to answer questions, resulting in misinformation and incomplete information about the testing. Conscientious leaders would have recognized that and tabled the issue to ensure that they had accurate information. . . .
Why does the response of the servants of the ag industry--rather than the citizens who elected them--remind a reader commenting on the editorial of a play by Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen? There might be something in the water. Don't look into it.
On the other hand, at least Commissioner Berg wasn't pivoting from agriculture to wildlife, as we observed a Farm Bureau leader did in our post Blame bison for dirty water, not farmers, Farm Bureau Honorary Life Member tells NUJournal.
What else might be in that well water?
Meme: That's how this works.
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