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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steven Jacob (R)

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Thursday, February 22, 2024

ST. PAUL – In response to a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) petition that directed the State of Minnesota to develop and implement a long-term solution to reduce nitrate concentrations in the drinking water of the Karst Region of southeastern Minnesota, State Representative Steve Jacob has sponsored ag water quality certification legislation for impacted farmers.


“Despite the picture that’s been inaccurately painted by extreme activists, farmers care about the environment and Republicans care about the environment,” Jacob said. “This legislation, which has a number of Democrat co-authors, allows farmers to actively become a part of the ground water solution rather than forcing them to face onerous penalties and regulations for problems created decades ago.”


Under Jacob’s legislation, any farmer in the Karst Region would receive a $5 per acre tax credit for any ag land that is placed in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).  


Jacob said the MAWQCP is currently a voluntary program that has been around for a decade and was originally sponsored by Democrats. Ironically, the pilot program began 12 years ago in the township where Rep. Jacob resides. Jacob was one of the first farmers in the state to receive MAWQCP certification.


As part of the program, a representative of the local soil and water conservation district would look at the applicant’s farming practices, review what is going well and what isn’t, and tell the farmer what needs to be done in order for the state to approve certification. Once the process has been successfully completed, the farm is MAWQCP certified for 10 years.


Jacob said if the farms are certified, not only will it prevent future nitrates from entering the ground water but will also eliminate other pollutants that are often associated with ag land.


“Farms that are certified are stopping erosion, stopping any potential runoff, and protecting the environment,” Jacob said. “Any program that is implemented takes time before improvement is shown, and Minnesota is showing improvement. It is wrong to make the farms of today pay for problems that were caused in the 1970’s. To me, it makes more sense to reward farmers for doing the right thing, and putting more farms in the MAWQCP is the right thing.”