Minnesota Landowners Seek Compensation for Mandatory Buffer Strips

May 17, 2018 04:01 AM
 
By Nov. 1, landowners and farmers in Minnesota must have buffer strips—consisting of 16½ feet in width of perennial vegetation—in place around both sides of any public ditches on their land.

By Nov. 1, landowners and farmers in Minnesota must have buffer strips—consisting of 16½ feet in width of perennial vegetation—in place around both sides of any public ditches on their land. This follows a deadline of November 2017, when Minnesota law required landowners to dedicate buffer strips that average 50 feet in width around public waters, which include streams, lakes and wetlands. 

The law, which aims to slow down or filter runoff that contains pesticides, fertilizer and sediment, requires landowners to install the buffers at their own expense. Around 120,000 acres of farmland will be taken out of crop production, says Kevin Paap, a farmer from Blue Earth County, Minn., and president of Minnesota Farm Bureau. Additionally, the acres dedicated to buffers will be taxed at levels as if they were still in production.

Earlier this month, 15 Minnesota farm organizations called on Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders to approve a property-tax credit of $50 per acre for farmers who have installed water-quality buffers on tillable land. 

“Minnesota is a high-property tax state,” Paap says. “We are taxed from $65 to $85 an acre for farmland, which we’ll be taking out of production. A credit of $50 an acre is not going to pay all of the property taxes, but it will help ease the financial burden.”

This tax credit for landowners would come from the state’s Clean Water Fund, which is supported by sales-tax revenue and generates around $100 billion per year. However, some environmental groups don’t support this plan and want it to come out of a general fund, Paap says. On top of the disagreement about the funding source, the Minnesota legislative session ends in late May. 

If the property-tax credit is not approved in the current legislative session, Paap is unsure of the next steps. Regardless, it will stay top-of-mind for the state’s farmers.

“This has been one of the hottest topics in Minnesota agriculture for the last two or three years,” Paap says. “I quit counting when I went to over my 100th buffer meeting.” 

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Comments

 
Spell Check

David Leonard
persia, IA
5/18/2018 07:41 AM
 

  I being a land owner would tell the state govt. To pound sand..no incentive to comply...why should the farmer allow somebody with no land ownership to tell the land owner what he or she may do on property they own and pay taxes on...where are the rights of the land owner ?? If you think you are going to tell me what I can do on land that has been in my family for several generations.....you are going to have to pay for that ability !!!!

 
 
Rosie Bosse
Onaga, KS
5/18/2018 09:27 AM
 

  Well, since they are public ditches, fill them in. If there is no ditch, there is no problem. Cover them up! Yes, where are the rights of the landowner? They take their land out of production to make buffer strips and then are taxed as if it is in production? Are you kidding me!? Fill them up and walk away.

 
 
Ben
Peterson, IA
5/18/2018 09:53 AM
 

  I agree with Rosie, throw a tile in the bottom and fill it.

 
 

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