Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes Inc. president and chief executive officer Chris Policinski announced May 25 a new public/private partnership to protect and improve water quality across Minnesota.
According to Dayton's office, this new partnership is the first of its kind in the nation, partnering the state of Minnesota with Land O’Lakes and local farmers across Minnesota to improve water quality stewardship standards on their farms.
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary program that enables farmers and landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect and improve the state’s water resources. Since its inception in 2014, the program has certified more than 150 farms totaling more than 83,000 acres. Together, the program keeps more than 6.5 million lb. of sediment out of the state's rivers while saving nearly 9 million lb. of soil and 4,500 lb. of phosphorous on farms each year, according to the announcement.
Now, through the partnership with Land O'Lakes, the agricultural cooperative company will work to expand participation in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program through its agricultural retail network across Minnesota.
Altogether, Land O'Lakes’ seed and crop protection business, Winfield US, serves nearly 1,300 independently owned and operated agricultural retailers that operate thousands of retail locations across the U.S., with approximately 300,000 farmers in their system representing close to 100 million acres. The company’s leadership and participation in this nation-leading conservation effort will make a positive and significant difference toward improving the quality of water in Minnesota for generations to come, the announcement said.
“Water is a finite resource, and we are pleased to partner with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the state of Minnesota on this first-of-its-kind public/private partnership to protect and enhance water quality across the state," Policinski said. “Through our tools, insights and technology, we work to enable prudent management of water resources in our operations, on our member farms and through partnerships such as this to ensure a sustainable future for food and agriculture.”
Minnesota agriculture commissioner Dave Frederickson said the state is "pleased to partner with Land O’Lakes. This important partnership will be critical to expanding conservation and water quality protections to more farms across the state. The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program has already demonstrated the ability to achieve improved water quality outcomes, and this partnership will only continue to enhance those efforts.”
The certification program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect water resources. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and, in turn, will obtain regulatory certainty for a period of 10 years. After a successful pilot phase in 2014-15, the program is now available to farmers and landowners statewide. More information is available at MyLandMyLegacy.com.
Land O'Lakes is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2015 annual sales of $13 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives.