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MN Ag Water Quality Certification Program Awards 500 Endorsements to Recognize Outstanding Farmers

Endorsements are for soil health, integrated pest management, wildlife, and more

St. Paul, MN: The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) has awarded 500 endorsements, in addition to 10-year certification, to farmers and landowners across the state.

There are currently five MAWQCP endorsements. The integrated pest management, soil health, and wildlife endorsements have been available since 2019. The irrigation water management endorsement and the Climate Smart endorsement have been available since 2022.

"We recognize that many conservation practices targeting water quality also have benefits for other conservation goals, such as soil health and wildlife protection," said Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. "These Ag Water Quality Certification endorsements celebrate the certified producers who are going above and beyond to implement conservation on their farms, and I congratulate those who have received these endorsements for their outstanding work."

The MAWQCP is a voluntary program for farmers and landowners that protects the state's water resources. To date, Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality certified farms have added nearly 2,900 new conservation practices that protect Minnesota's waters. Those new practices have kept over 48,000 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers while saving 144,000 tons of soil and 60,000 pounds of phosphorous on farms each year. The conservation practices have also reduced nitrogen loss up to 49% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 52,500 tons per year.

The MAWQCP partnered with various non-profit organizations, such as Pheasants Forever and the Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, and state agencies to develop the endorsements.

Meadowbrook Dairy, Inc. was the first farm to achieve all five endorsements through the Ag Water Quality Certification Program. Meadowbrook Dairy, Inc. is a fifth-generation farm in Stearns County owned and operated by the Udermann family, including John, his sons Alex and Jake, and Alex's wife Krissy. All are employed full time on the farm and, with the help of John's wife Mary Lou, together they raise 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, small grains, alfalfa, along with an 80-cow dairy and 300 feeder steers.

"Signing up and going through the process of water quality certification and the endorsements gave our farm direction and assistance to meet the conservation goals we had set for ourselves," said Alex Udermann. "It clearly laid out a solid foundation to learn, to improve, and to grow on. We really wanted to show our local community of Sartell that our farm is doing everything we can to do to improve water quality on the acres we farm and taking care of the soil in a sustainable and regenerative way."

Current Endorsements

• Climate Smart Endorsements – 163

• Integrated Pest Management Endorsements – 104

• Irrigation Endorsements – 13

• Soil Health Endorsements – 137

• Wildlife Endorsements – 83

Certified producers who achieve an endorsement receive an additional sign for their farm and recognition for their conservation excellence.

Farmers and landowners interested in an endorsement or becoming water quality certified can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or visit MyLandMyLegacy.com.

About the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. After a successful pilot phase in 2014-2015, the program is now available to farmers and landowners statewide. To date, the program has certified 1,492 farms totaling over 1 million acres.

 

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