ST. PAUL, Minn.–The Rock County, Minnesota Land Management Office was recently recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for excellence in implementing Minnesota’s innovative Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) Loan Program.
In the 20-year history of the program, the county has provided 377 loans worth nearly $8 million for AgBMPs using Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF), state funds, and other financing sources in order to reduce costs to multi-generational farms.
Rock County was one of 28 water quality treatment projects or programs around the nation that were honored for excellence and innovation within the CWSRF program. The CWSRF is a federal-state partnership that provides communities a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects.
“Rock County is pleased to be recognized by the US EPA for our efforts to reach out and assist the citizens of southwestern Minnesota. However, it is the people of Rock County that should be recognized for their efforts and their successes to protect the water resources of our county,” said Eric Hartman, Land Management Director. “Though our residents have already implemented many practices such as ag waste management through feedlot improvements, custom applicator equipment, conservation equipment, and upgrading septic systems, the responsibility to protect our natural resources is never ending and we will continue be there to assist them in their efforts.”
Mary Thompson, Land Management Office Manager, also thanked the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) for making the Ag Best Management Loan program available, saying it is a valuable asset in working to maintain and improve water quality in Rock County.
AgBMP projects on two Rock County farms were highlighted in the award application. Farmer Dennis Leuthold received a $149,000 loan to address high nitrates in local wells by reconstructing his stockyard for 926 cows. The result of these environmental stewardship efforts was an immediate drop in nitrate levels well below drinking water standards.
Rock County farmer Shain Fluit received a $200,000 loan to purchase a high clearance fertilizer applicator. This improved crop yield while at the same time preventing nitrate pollution in nearby shallow drinking water wells. Demonstrating the spirit of cooperative problem-solving embodied by Rock County, Fluit also offers split rate nitrate application and cover crop opportunities to other area farmers through a custom application service.
— Minnesota Department of Agriculture
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