Buffer Regulations, Benefits, and Challenges
Buffer is not a four-letter word, but in Minnesota, it might as well be one. Governor Mark Dayton’s campaign last winter and spring for mandatory 50-foot buffers along streams, lakes, and ditches brought a lot of heat to this northern state. Dayton even suggested that farm practices are turning the state’s 10,000 lakes into cesspools.
"There were a lot of lightning rods to this,” recalls Kevin Paap, who farms near Mankato and who is president of Minnesota Farm Bureau. “One week I had over 60 calls from people wondering what was going on.”
Paap has buffer strips along drainage ditches on his own farm, with some of it enrolled in USDA’s enhanced conservation reserve program, but he sees relying on buffer strips to clean runoff from farm fields as overly simplistic. “A one-size-fits-all program isn’t the most effective,” he says.
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