Farmers Union applauds ditch mowing legislation signature

The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) today applauded the signature of Senate File 218 by Governor Mark Dayton that implements a moratorium on the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) in enforcing permit requirements for mowing and baling in right of way on trunk highways, except for land that adjoins state land, until April 30th, 2018.

MFU had raised concerns with the new permit system MNDOT had announced in December of 2016. Many farmers saw it as unnecessary, confusing and burdensome.

mowing ditches moratorium

Farmers mowing and baling ditches will continue as is for the next year, thanks to legislation signed by Governor Dayton placing a moratorium on a MN-DOT plan to require permits to mow rights-of-ways next to roads.

“Mowing roadsides has been an important source of forage for farmers, controls weeds, and it improves visibility on highways” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “The legislation will give all parties a chance to get together and address issues and MFU encourages farmers to pay attention to this issue over the interim.

“Make sure to be involved in making your voices heard on this issue” added Wertish.

Under the legislation, MNDOT will recommend to the legislative committees with jurisdiction over transportation, agriculture, and natural resources, that there be an establishment of a permit or notification system to mow or hay in a trunk highway right-of-way. The recommendation must be developed with input from agriculture and environmental groups. The recommendation must contain at least the following elements:

(1) ease of permit application or notification;

(2) frequency of permits or notifications;

(3) priority given to the owner or occupant of private land adjacent to a trunk highway right-of-way;

(4) determination of authority to mow or hay in trunk highway right-of-way in which adjacent land is under the jurisdiction of the state or a political subdivision; and

(5) recognition of the differences in the abundance of wildlife habitat based on geographic distribution throughout the state.

MFU thanks Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) for their work as chief authors of this legislation.

Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Fighting for Farmers (www.mfu.org).

MN DNR Releases Updated Buffer Map

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) released the updated Minnesota buffer map this month. The update is based on comments and change requests from landowners and drainage authorities in order to ensure the map accurately shows where buffers are needed.

Buffer map update released

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released its most up to date buffer map. The DNR has also updated its buffer application as well. (photo from bwsr.state.mn.us)

645 changes were made in the most recent update. Since the preliminary buffer map was released in March 2016, the MN DNR has received more than 3,400 comments or change requests and has made nearly 2,100 map updates.

We strongly suggest members to view the interactive map found at the link provided below. This interactive map allows you to find specific buffer requirements for waterways in precise areas. To suggest a correction to the buffer map, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). SWCDs are able to work directly with landowners on these issues. The next updated Minnesota buffer map is set to be released in early 2017.

The MN DNR has also updated the buffer map application. The application is a web-based mapping tool for soil and water conservation districts, drainage authorities and local governments to review the buffer map, suggest corrections and see MN DNR review decisions. The updated application provides soil and water conservation districts and drainage authorities with an easy way to submit map change requests and other comments.

Here is the link:

http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/

This is an overview of the Minnesota buffer law if you’re looking for a refresher on the topic.

Chronic Wasting Disease confirmed near Lanesboro

DNR initiates disease response plan; offers hunters information on field dressing

Test results show two deer harvested by hunters in southeastern Minnesota were infected with Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

One deer has been confirmed as CWD-positive. Confirmation of the second is expected later this week. The deer, both male, were killed near Lanesboro in Fillmore County during the first firearms deer season.

Chronic Wasting disease deer hunting Minnesota

Minnesota DNR testing has found two deer with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) near Lanesboro. It’s the first time CWD has been found in southeast Minnesota since 2010. (photo from peekerhealth.com)

The two deer were harvested approximately 1 mile apart. These are the only deer to test positive from 2,493 samples collected Nov. 5-13. Results are still pending from 373 additional test samples collected during the opening three days of the second firearms season, Nov. 19-21.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. While it is found in deer in states bordering southeastern Minnesota, it was only found in a single other wild deer in Minnesota in 2010.

The DNR discovered the disease when sampling hunter-killed deer this fall in southeastern Minnesota as part of its CWD surveillance program. Dr. Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said hunter and landowner cooperation on disease surveillance is the key to keeping the state’s deer herd healthy.

“We were proactively looking for the disease, a proven strategy that allows us to manage CWD by finding it early, reacting quickly and aggressively to control it and hopefully eliminating its spread,” he said.

It is unknown how the two CWD-positive deer, which were harvested 4 miles west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348, contracted the disease, Cornicelli said. 

“We want to thank hunters who have brought their deer to our check stations for sampling,” he said. “While finding CWD-positive deer is disappointing, we plan to work with hunters, landowners and other organizations to protect the state’s deer herd and provide hunters the opportunity to pass on their deer hunting traditions.”

Chronic wasting disease Minnesota deer hunting

Two deer have been found with Chronic Wasting Disease near Lanesboro. The disease doesn’t present a threat to humans but it is recommended that you don’t eat meat from deer that test positive. (Photo from KIMT.com

These are the first wild deer found to have Chronic Wasting Disease since a deer harvested in fall 2010 near Pine Island tested positive. It was found during a successful disease control effort prompted by the detection in 2009 of CWD on a domestic elk farm. The DNR, landowners and hunters worked together to sample more than 4,000 deer in the Pine Island area from 2011 to 2013, and no additional infected deer were found.

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat. Still, the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have CWD.

With the muzzleloader deer season stretching into mid-December and archery season open through Saturday, Dec. 31, hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
  • Bone out the meat from your animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes. 
  • If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.

The DNR already has begun implementing the state’s CWD response plan. Three additional CWD testing stations were opened in Fillmore County last weekend and electronic registration was turned off in two additional deer permit areas.

“We’ll wait until the late 3B firearms season concludes this weekend and analyze test results from all the samples we collect from hunters,” Cornicelli said. “That will provide a better indication of the potential prevalence and distribution of CWD so we can determine boundaries for a disease management zone and the actions we’ll take to manage the disease and limit its spread.”

The DNR began CWD testing in southeastern Minnesota again this fall in response to expanded CWD infections in Wisconsin, Illinois, and northeast Iowa, as well as new and growing infections in Arkansas and Missouri. The increasing prevalence and geographic spread of the disease also prompted an expanded carcass import restriction that does not allow whole carcasses of deer, elk, moose and caribou to be brought into Minnesota.

The discovery of CWD in wild deer reinforces the need for the vigilance that disease surveillance and carcass import restrictions provide. Although inconvenient, hunter cooperation with these measures help protect Minnesota’s deer herd.

“Working with landowners and hunters to better protect deer from disease is vital to Minnesota’s hunting tradition and economy and most important, the deer population in general,” Cornicelli said. “In states where CWD has become well-established in wild deer, efforts at elimination have been unsuccessful. Research has shown that if established, the disease will reduce deer populations in the long term. Nobody wants this to happen in Minnesota.” 

Because much of southeastern Minnesota’s land is privately owned, the DNR will work with landowners when collecting additional samples to assess disease distribution and reduce the potential for CWD to spread. Sample collection could take the form of a late winter deer hunt, landowner shooting permits and sharpshooting in conjunction with cooperating landowners who provide permission.

“Those decisions will be made after surveillance is done this hunting season,” Cornicelli said.

The DNR has been on the lookout for CWD since 2002, when the disease first was detected at a domestic elk farm in central Minnesota. In recent years it has put additional focus on southeastern Minnesota; the region abuts Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected by CWD and the disease has been detected in northeastern Iowa’s Allamakee County.

Since 2002, the DNR has tested approximately 50,000 deer, elk, and moose for Chronic Wasting Disease.

CWD is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. The disease also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.
 
For more information, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, frequently asked questions, hunter information and venison processing, visit the DNR’s Chronic Wasting Disease homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd. Landowners, hunters and citizens can stay engaged and informed by visiting the CWD page and signing up to receive an email automatically when new information on CWD management becomes available.

More questions about CWD?

EWG: voluntary conservation isn’t enough

Seven years in the making, EWG’s Conservation Database allows Americans to see exactly where billions of dollars in conservation funding have gone. The data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, is broken down by county.

“Used wisely and with the right incentives, farm conservation programs are making a difference in protecting our health, and improving our quality of life and the environment,” said Craig Cox, EWG Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources. “But we need to focus taxpayer dollars on getting the most effective practices in the right places to address the most urgent threats.”

Data obtained by the EWG through FOIA requests show where federal conservation dollars have been spent on projects, including cover crops.

Data obtained by the EWG through FOIA requests show where federal conservation dollars have been spent on projects, including cover crops.

The data, obtained through 28 FOIA requests over seven years, show that since 2005 farmers and landowners have received $29.8 billion in payments through four initiatives funded by Congress and administered by USDA.

-Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, $318 million

-Conservation Reserve Program, $20 billion

-Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $7.4 billion

-Conservation Stewardship Program, $2.2 billion

The data confirm the growing recognition that voluntary programs alone are insufficient. Voluntary programs in the federal farm bill can play an important role, but they aren’t leading to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment.

“It’s more than fair to expect farmers and landowners to do more to protect the environment in return for the generous farm and insurance subsidies they receive,” Cox said. “Americans across the country are seeing the price of farm pollution firsthand. It’s time for Congress to deliver a return on their tax dollars by requiring farmers who take money from these programs to do more to protect the environment and public health.”

Source: EWG

This article can be found at farmfutures.com

Minnesota Farm Bureau asks for support of S.1140

Stop EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule

“On August 28, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will have control over citizen’s land and a federal permit will likely be required in order to conduct any activity on land that causes any material to be deposited onto a regulated low spot, wetland or ditch (for example, applying fertilizer, applying pest control products or even just moving dirt) or face significant fines,” said Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap. “EPA is overreaching their authority, and we need your help to stop them.”

Farm Bureau Federation

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation wants citizens to contact their Senators to tell them to put a halt to the EPA’s Waters of the US Rule. (photo from fbmn.org)

“Contact Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken and ask them to support S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which will stop the EPA from implementing the final rule and re-propose a rule that actually follows the limits set by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court,” said Paap.

“The final rule is even broader and more unclear than we thought it could be. One major concern is the expanded definition of tributaries,” said Paap. “Any land feature with the ‘presence of physical indicators of a bed, bank and ordinary high water mark’ would be considered a ‘tributary,’ and therefore a Waters of the U.S., even if there is no water there.”

“In addition, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers can use ‘desktop tools’ (e.g. LIDAR, aerial photography and NRCS Soil Surveys) or base it on past conditions rather than current conditions to make a determination on whether or not you will need a federal permit,” said Paap. “It will be impossible for landowners to know which ditches are excluded.”

Kevin Paap

Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap is encouraging farmers and other Minnesotans to call their Senators and ask them to put a stop to the EPA’s Waters of the US Rule. (photo from twitter.com)

“With just a few weeks until this rule goes into effect, we need the Senate to pass S. 1140 as soon as possible. That means you need to act now,” said Paap. “Go to fbmn.org to send a message to Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken. Every voice counts!”

Minnesota Farm Bureau representing Farmers • Families • Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureaus across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for young farmers and ranchers develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for children. Join Farm Bureau today and support our efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.

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For more information on the Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.orgwww.Facebook.com/MNFarmBureau or www.Twitter.com/MNFarmBureau.

MN Farm Bureau Opposes Final WOTUS Rule

Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) has significant concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule defining “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

“EPA continues to conduct a messaging campaign to reassure farmers, ranchers and landowners that this rule is harmless. Unfortunately, when we actually read the rule, this is not the case,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “This final rule provides no clarity, no certainty and no limits on agency power.”

“Contrary to EPA’s assurances that the final rule would address agriculture’s concerns, it turns out the final rule is even broader than the proposed rule,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “For example, the definition of “tributary” has been broadened to include landscape features that may not even be visible to the human eye, or that existed historically but are no longer present. Agencies will be able to use desktop tools, such as aerial photographs and mapping tools the average farmer does not have access to, to make that regulatory determination without ever leaving their desks.”

Kevin Paap

Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap (photo from twitter.com/kevinpaap)

“EPA also added entirely new possible jurisdictional features that were not subject to public review during the proposed rule, including prairie potholes, which will affect a significant portion of Minnesota,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap.

“Unfortunately, the rule-making process has failed farmers, ranchers and landowners. Agriculture’s concerns were dismissed as ‘silly’ and ludicrous,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “It’s hard to make rules that are workable outside of the Washington D.C. beltway when the agencies made it quite clear that they were genuinely not open to considering objections to the rule.”

“Now that we know what we are working with, it is critical that the Senate takes action,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “EPA and the Corps have run around Congress, and it’s time the Senate reestablishes their oversight role in the development of agency rules. MFBF strongly supports legislation that would send EPA back to the drawing board to come up with a rule that is practical and actually achieves environmental benefits in a clear way. We urge Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken to stand up for farmers, ranchers and landowners and support the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.”

Ditch the Rule

Farm Bureau wants the EPA to ditch the controversial Waters of the US Rule (photo from ditchtherule.fb.org)

Minnesota Farm Bureau – Farmers ● Families ● Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureau associations across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for young farmers and ranchers develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for children. Join Farm Bureau today and support efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.

MN Farm Bill Partnership Invites Landowners to a Pheasant Summit

Pheasants Forever and the Minnesota Farm Bill Partnership invite area landowners and farmers to participate in the state’s first Pheasant Summit at Southwest Minnesota State University on December 13, 2014. No cost conservation planning for area landowners will be available throughout the day at the “Landowner Habitat Help Desk” to provide consultation regarding USDA and state conservation program eligibility.The Minnesota Pheasant Summit will include hunters, farmers, policymakers, conservationists, other stakeholders, and key members of the Governor’s Cabinet. The event will focus on strategies to increase the state’s pheasant population, improve pheasant habitat, and ensure future generations of Minnesota hunters have the opportunity to enjoy one of the state’s most popular and iconic game birds. Attendees can register for the Pheasant Summit online.“Farmers and landowners play a huge role in the quantity and quality of pheasant habitat across Minnesota,” said Eran Sandquist, Pheasants Forever’s state coordinator in Minnesota. “Pheasants Forever and its partners encourage landowners to attend the summit to provide input about the future of pheasants in our state. Wildlife biologists will be on hand at the landowner help desk all day to assist landowners in developing wildlife goals that fit with their operation and build an understanding of current program options to help achieve those goals.”NRCS and Pheasants Forever have developed a wonderful partnership to help Minnesota private landowners implement conservation practices on their land. The Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists have made a significant difference in how many landowners we service from our USDA Service Centers. Every day they assist us with voluntary conservation implementation and actively demonstrate that our landowners recognize we can have both economically viable farms and excellent pheasant habitat. The Minnesota Summit is another demonstration of the leadership and dedication Pheasants Forever has for working with the agencies and private landowners,” explained Don Baloun, State Conservationist, NRCS.

The Minnesota Farm Bill Partnership is a collection of state agencies and organizations dedicated to providing technical assistance and conservation planning to Minnesota landowners through USDA habitat programs. Participating partners include the Board of Water and Soil Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Post-Summit Gathering

Pheasants Forever will host a post-summit gathering of the Minnesota Pheasant Summit at Brau Brothers Brewing Company in Marshall, Minn. Participants, members, pheasant hunters and landowners are encouraged to attend and discuss further ideas to support Minnesota’s pheasant population.

  • What: A no cost event to discuss outcomes of the inaugural Minnesota Pheasant Summit. A special price of $10 will include a burger and beverage.
  • When: Saturday, December 13, 2014, starting at 5 p.m.
  • Where: Brau Brothers Brewing Company Tap Room (910 East Main Street, Marshall, MN 56258)
  • Hotels: Rooms are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please contact Darin Rahm with the Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau at 507-537-1865.

About Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

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Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.