USDA Offers Minnesota Farmers Incentive to Adopt Water Quality Systems
According to a report from the Star Tribune, farmers in Minnesota are being encouraged to sign up for the Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program in an effort to reduce water pollution and improve conservation. The USDA has reportedly provided incentive for participating farmers by exempting them from any changes to agriculture regulations for the next 10 years.
The Agriculture Water Quality Program is a pilot project initiated by the state and federal government to deal with the challenge of water pollution in agriculture, reported the Star Tribune. The program selected four watersheds across the state to be part of the pilot program but it can only succeed if enough farmers agree to participate. According to the article, the USDA has agreed to exempt participating farmers from any changes made to current agriculture regulations but it does not exempt them from existing rules. Farmers will be responsible for displaying water conservation and taking measures to reduce water pollution in order to qualify for the incentives.
In the article, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was quoted saying that “he expects other states will want to emulate the voluntary model…It marks a new kind of relationship between the regulators and the regulated.”
By providing farmers with incentive to participate in the program, state and federal representatives claim there will be a higher level of success in improving water quality. Should the program expand to other regions in the state and country, farmers will reportedly continue to receive exemptions from regulation changes, granted they hold up their end of the water quality agreement.