An amendment proposed by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources regarding the state’s buffer law introduced last week has area farmers and some lawmakers concerned. The proposal drastically increases the penalty for producers who haven’t implemented the proper buffers on their property.

Republican Minnesota State Senator Bill Weber of Luverne said, “They told us in committee last year, ‘Oh, there won’t be penalties in excess of $500,’ but now we’re seeing actual penalties that can not only be imposed on the footage that’s (in) violation but rather the entire length of the water course that will total tens of thousands of dollars for potential farmers.”

Mankato DFL State Representative Jack Considine said it’s an issue he will delve into more deeply, but at first glance he also has concerns. He said, “Flagrantly violating, that’s one issue. If you have somebody that’s trying to comply and they have something that’s unique to their property that’s a different issue.”

The buffer law requires vegetation buffers of up to 50 feet along lakes, rivers, and streams and buffers of 16.5 feet along ditches, which are meant to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment. Considine believes, “Most farmers, most Minnesotans want to have clean water. They want to leave the land in better shape than when they had it for their children and their grandchildren.”

The requirement for buffers along public waters was implemented last fall, and the deadline for ditches is later this year, in November.