In last week's post, While Kiel & Fabian circle the manure spreaders, Free Press editors cite science on water quality, we noted the audacity of the editors Mankato's daily paper in demanding accountability from agriculture on water quality.
A kind reader in rural Blue Earth County pointed out a second editorial in the Free Press that pierces through the talking pointed against the Governor's Buffer Initiative, Our View: Dayton's buffer bill has flexibility ag says it wants.
The editorial board pulls no punches:
If you think you are hearing the exact same argument repeated over and over by agriculture groups when it comes to proposed buffer strip legislation, it's because you have.
Nearly from the day Gov. Mark Dayton announced he wanted to see 50-foot buffer strips along all rivers, streams, drainage ditches and other "perennial waterways" farm groups have been on the same page when criticizing it.
A 50-foot vegetative buffer, they say, is a one-size-fits-all approach that isn't necessary in many cases.
That would have been a strong argument if the actual legislation required 50-foot buffers in all cases and everywhere. But if they actually read the legislation it's clear it provides for alternatives if a 50-foot buffer doesn't make sense in improving water quality. (Google "minnesota senate file 1537" to read it yourself. The House version is exactly the same.)
Subd. 5 of the legislation is helpfully labeled "Alternative practices."
It says: "When a 50-foot buffer will not protect or improve water quality, a landowner may seek approval for an alternative water quality conservation plan or alternative water quality best management practice, including variable width buffers, that fulfills the purpose under subdivision 2."
The DNR says alternative practices could include things like narrower buffer strips or a combination of other water management practices that are approved by the local soil and water conservation district.
Despite the obvious intent to provide a flexible plan, agribusiness groups continue to peddle the idea that 50-feet of land along all waterways will be "taken" by the government.
Critics occasionally move away from the one-size-fits-all arguments by using suspect "research" and science to argue modern agriculture has no effect on water quality. . . .
That one reminds us of the pesticide industry shills claiming that pollinator-lethal insecticides are good for bees (and they have). Read the entire editorial at the Free Press.
The county seat of Blue Earth County, Mankato is located at the confluence of the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers, in the heart of agricultural south-central Minnesota.
Photo: Agribusiness talking points constantly remind us of the rhetoric value of manure. Like Harry Truman, we took a long time to learn to use the word "manure."
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