A clean water victory: Working Lands & Forever Green approved by MN legislature!
Perennial crops can help reduce agricultural runoff, provide pollinator habitat and increase farm profits. Photo courtesy of Forever Green.
Minnesota just made real progress towards clean water.
Funding for Friends of the Mississippi River's two top priorities, the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program ($594,000) and Forever Green ($1 million) was secured at the Minnesota Capitol on Sunday, May 22, 2016.
Both programs have received widespread support from clean water organizations, local government units, and farm and commodity groups.
The Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program establishes a voluntary, market-based incentive for perennial crops that can be used to produce new biofuels, green chemicals, and green energy crops. Legislators included $594,000 for the state to develop the crop incentive program, which will improve water quality and habitat while boosting the bottom line for Minnesota's farm economy.
Working Lands is the product of a diverse coalition of interests, including the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the Minnesota Farmer's Union, The Great Plains Institute and the Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota.
Runoff pollution remains a major issue for the Mississippi River. One way to prevent this runoff is to put more perennial crops on the landscape. By developing a program that makes those perennial crops profitable for Minnesota's farm operations, we can improve water quality and farm prosperity while also enhancing wildlife habitat and reinvigorating our rural economy. This program is a win-win for Minnesota, which is why it has received such strong support from agriculture, environment and industry.
The legislature included $1 million for the Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota. The research funds will accelerate development of innovative cover and perennial crops that can dramatically reduce agricultural runoff pollution, improve soil health and boost farm productivity and profits.
Many thanks to all of our friends, supporters and FMR River Protectors who took the time to contact their legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton to support the funding of these programs. FMR is also grateful to the leadership of Gov. Mark Dayton, who pledged to make clean water a priority for his administration.
"When Minnesotans from all walks of life came together for the Governor's Water Summit in February," noted Mr. Clark, "it was clear that pioneering initiatives like Forever Green and Working Lands were a priority for those in attendance. We're grateful to legislators for following through by providing full funding for both programs."