Governor Mark Dayton and Land O'Lakes, Inc., President and CEO Chris Policinski recently announced a new public-private partnership to protect and improve water quality across Minnesota. 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.
"I thank Land O'Lakes for their leadership in improving the quality of water in Minnesota," said Governor Dayton. "By working together, we can improve the quality of our water for future generations of Minnesotans. I urge businesses, farmers, and landowners across Minnesota to follow this model of responsible stewardship."
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary program for 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 over 150 farms totaling more than 83,000 acres. Together, the program keeps over 6.5 million pounds of sediment out of our rivers, while saving nearly 9 million pounds of soil and 4,500 pounds of phosphorous on farms, each year.
Now, through the groundbreaking partnership with Land O' Lakes, the agricultural cooperative company will work to expand participation in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program through their ag 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 United States, 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.
"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," said Chris Policinski, President & CEO, Land O'Lakes, Inc. "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."
Over the past year, Governor Dayton has made improving water quality in Minnesota a top priority. This session, Governor Dayton proposed a $220 million proposal to ensure safe, clean, and affordable water for everyone, everywhere in Minnesota. And Governor Dayton has been highlighting the serious challenges facing Minnesota's water supplies, convening the first-ever Governor's Water Summit in February, hosting Water Action Week in Minnesota last month, and calling for a Year of Safe Water Action beginning this summer, to inform Minnesotans about our water challenges and gather input and ideas to bring to the legislature in 2017.
"We are 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," said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. "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."