Minnesota has secured $350 million in federal funding for a voluntary program to pay farmers to protect and improve water quality in southern and western Minnesota, but the state needs to come up with about $95 million more to get the full amount.
The state-federal effort announced by Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday is called the Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Dayton says it targets 60,000 acres across 54 counties that face significant water quality challenges.
Under the program, farmers and farmland owners will be encouraged to voluntarily enroll land in the federal Conservation Reserve Program and the state Reinvest in Minnesota easement program.
The announcement comes at a time when one of Dayton's law requiring buffer strips of vegetation between farm fields and waterways is under fire from lawmakers and farmers.