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Big Buffer strip fines for Minnesota farmers not likely to make it through the week



The executive director of a state board says a controversial proposal that could have meant big fines for landowners who violate Minnesota’s requirement for buffer strips between farm fields and waterways says the idea will likely die Thursday.

John Jaschke of the Board of Water and Soil Resources says the board’s buffer committee meets Thursday, and he expects the committee to reject the draft proposal and not pursue it further.

Jaschke spoke after Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton joined with key GOP legislative leaders in criticizing the proposal, which was meant to give local governments a new option for imposing higher administrative penalties than current regulations allow.

The fines for improper buffers would come to $500 per foot of waterway frontage.  Republican Preston state representative Greg Davids is among those who condemned the idea.

“I’m at a loss for words on this,” Davids said.  “Because this is outrageous, what they’re doing to the farmers, that they had better back off on this, like, super quick.  Kind of like Jimmy John’s “Freaky Fast,” they better back off on this.”

The state currently mandates a 50′ buffer between farmland and a river or stream and 16.5′ between farmland and a ditch. The buffer has to be planted with vegetation meant to trap pollutants.

Davids says just the buffer rule itself should be challenged as an illegal land grab by the government.

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