ST. PAUL — Federal officials have awarded $9 million in financial assistance to Minnesota farmers for implementing conservation practices to earn certification in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program.

The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program is designed to accelerate progress toward water quality goals in our state’s lakes, rivers, and streams while making conservation regulations more predictable and less cost-prohibitive for the state’s farmers. Those enrolled in the program who implement and maintain approved farm management practices are certified by the state, and, in turn, are assured that their operations meet the state’s water quality goals and standards for a period of 10 years.

This five-year award is the second the state has received for the MAWQCP. In 2015, Minnesota was given a $9 million RCPP award for five years. In both instances, the entire amount of money is passed through to farmers for on-the-farm conservation measures.

Since it began in 2014, the MAWQCP has certified over 800 farms totaling nearly 550,000 acres. Farmers have installed over 1,700 new conservation practices across Minnesota as part of the program. Those new practices have kept over 37,000 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers while saving nearly 103,000 tons of soil and 45,000 pounds of phosphorous on farms each year. The conservation practices have also reduced nitrogen loss up to 49% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 36,000 tons per year. This success lead to the second round of funding from the RCPP.

This article was submitted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.