Dayton vetoes the Agriculture Bill

Governor Mark DaytonBY ED FELIEN

On Saturday, May 23, Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the Agriculture Bill. “Minnesotans care deeply about our Great Outdoors, and expect that our regulatory agencies will have the authority needed to protect our natural resources,” Dayton wrote in his veto letter, “House File 846 weakens the state’s authority and threatens our future.”
The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) had written to supporters, urging them to lobby Dayton to veto the bill:  “The Minnesota Legislature decided that instead of weakening the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Citizens’ Board, it will outright ELIMINATE it. This outrageous idea, which was not introduced as a bill or heard previously in any legislative committee, was unveiled late Saturday night and promptly adopted in conference committee in a backroom deal. The Citizens’ Board was established in 1967 with the creation of the MPCA, to ensure the agency serves the public interest and to establish an open and transparent decision-making process. It has worked well and is a model the state should be proud of.
“This effort to eliminate the Citizens’ Board is driven by corporate interests who want to make it more difficult for citizens to have their voices heard. This language is included in the Agriculture and Environment Budget Bill, along with many other bad provisions, including a sham buffer strip proposal that puts off addressing the serious issue of agricultural runoff polluting our water.”
Buffers between farmland and waterways prevent pesticide runoff from contaminating our streams and rivers. They are necessary to prevent further damage such as what is found right now in the Gulf of Mexico—a dead zone the size of Connecticut, much of it caused by pesticide runoff from Minnesota.  Dayton had called for a requirement for buffers between farmland and waterways, but the Agriculture Bill would have offered a five- year amnesty for existing conditions before farmers would have to put a 50-foot buffer on public waters (lakes, bigger rivers and deeper wetlands), and it delayed for seven years a requirement for a 16.5 foot buffer on ditches.

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