Area farmers could lose acreage to buffer law compliance
In 2015, Governor Mark Dayton signed a buffer law directed at farmers who manage public water on their parcels. A buffer is made up of perennial plants for the purpose of absorbing the flow of rainwater before agricultural pollution contaminates adjacent lakes and rivers. These farmers are required to establish buffers by November 1, 2017.
Casey Field, a technician at the Mille Lacs County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD ) office, said farmers’ responses are varied: “I’ve talked with a few farmers who are confused and upset about losing land. Many farmers have buffers in place and will have to add a few feet. Others may have to give up a couple acres for buffers. Everyone has their own take on the buffer law. Some see the benefits. Some are for it and value water. For some it’ll be a burden. It always affects a farm to lose land.”
Many farmers have made progress toward compliance; some farmers have been complying with an old law, the ‘Shore land Standard’ passed in the 1980s, though these farmers may have to add a few feet of buffer to comply with the new law.