April 23, 2018
During a Minnesota House ag finance committee meeting April 17 in St. Paul, a Minnesota Department of Agriculture official said the department would release to the draft nitrogen rule to the public tomorrow and that it would be published in the state register on April 30.
Whitney Place, MDA legislative director, provided the N rule update to committee members at the end of the meeting. Once filed, a 60-day comment period will follow, she said.
Farmers and farm groups have been waiting for MDA to release the draft for review. Seven years of statewide discussions have taken place about the N fertilizer management plan, which would put rules in place for fall N application and in areas where nitrate levels are high in drinking water supplies.
In response to farmer concerns about MDA’s authority to adopt these rules, the House of Representatives recently passed HF 2887 by a vote of 69-56. HF 2887 would prohibit MDA from adopting new N rules unless they are specifically approved by law. The Minnesota Senate has similar language.
Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will veto this legislation if it reaches his desk. This language is also included in the House and Senate Agriculture omnibus bills.
Various farm groups support the House bill, such as the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. In general, MFBF policy supports legislative review of new government agency rules and fees before they are implemented.
MCGA had requested a 90-day comment period.
In a recent blog, MCGA provided a timeline showing the evolution of the N fertilizer rule. It provided the timeline, noting that “there have been many inaccurate reports circling regarding the draft Rule, particularly how this draft rule came to be.” The MCGA blog pointed out that the rule dates to 1989, when the state Legislature passed the Groundwater Protection Act.
Here is the timeline of the draft rule offered by MDA and MCGA:
Groundwater Protection Act is passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed into law. Authority for the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan and the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule is provided through the passing of the Groundwater Protection Act.
The first Nitrogen Management Plan, through which the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule is based, is adopted by MDA.
MDA convenes an advisory committee of farmers, agronomists, commodity groups and environmental organizations to revise and update the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP). MDA receives 420 written comments.
In June, MDA solicits public comment on a draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule in 17 listening sessions across the state. The comment period closes in late August with 820 written comments
On March 6, Dayton and MDA Commissioner David Frederickson hold a news conference to outline an updated timeline and map for the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule.
On April 17, during a House of Representatives ag finance committee meeting, Whitney Place, MDA legislative director, announces that the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule will be released to the public on April 24 and published in the state register April 30. A 60-day comment period will follow.
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