Livestock Environmental Quality Assurance Program (LEQA)
(d) $695,000 the first year and $1,570,000 the second year are for research, pilot projects, and technical assistance related to ways agricultural practices contribute to restoring impaired waters and assist with the development of TMDL plans. Of this amount, $150,000 each year is for grants to livestock environmental quality assurance program to develop resource management plans, provide resource management analysis and assistance, provide an implementation plan, and provide for annual reporting on water quality assessments and reasonable assurance of the water quality effects for the purpose of TMDL plans, including an assurance walk-through for farms enrolled in the program. By December 15, 2010, the commissioner of agriculture shall submit a report to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees and divisions with jurisdiction over agriculture and environment policy and finance on the activities of the livestock environmental quality assurance program. The report shall include: (1) the number of farms enrolled; (2) an analysis of the estimated water quality improvements to enrolled farms; and (3) an analysis of the ability to provide reasonable assurance of the water quality effects.
- Number of livestock producers involved in the LEQA program
- Number of acres assessed in the LEQA program
- Number of environmentally sensitive acres assessed in the LEQA program
- Number of resource concerns identified during LEQA assessments
Minnesota state agencies are working together to establish and report outcome-based performance measures that monitor the progress and effectiveness of Clean Water Fund activities. This inter-agency group completed a report in February 2012, Clean Water Fund Performance Report. At the heart of the report is a suite of quantifiable performance measures.A performance measurement is the regular collection and reporting of data to track work produced and results achieved.Regarding the LEQA program, MDA is reporting on performance measure FM4:Total dollars awarded in grants and contracts to non-state agency partners.
LEQA is a Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) program to help livestock producers address, using a non-regulatory approach, the unique water quality issues on their farms. The MDA has contracted with Ag Resource Strategies, LLC, to recruit farmers to enroll in the LEQA program. The company trains technicians to assess different areas of each farms, such as the farmstead, livestock facilities, fields and wooded areas. The technicians then develop an environmental assessment and identify financial assistance for these projects. This voluntary program helps livestock farms and ranchers achieve their environmental goals.
For more information about this program, visit Agricultural Resource Strategies' LEQA web page.
Trained LEQA technicians will assess:
- Waterbody management
- Community image
- Wildlife habitat
- Fuel and chemical storage
- Water and well
- Waste Disposal
Feedlot & Livestock
- Water run-on and run-off
- Animal cleanliness
- Feed and silage storage
- Manure storage and handling
- MinnFarm feedlot assessment
Fields and Pastures
- Cropping system
- Manure and fertility
- Soil and water
- Buffered set-backs
Forests and Wooded Areas
- Wildlife benefits
Beginning in February 2010, 105 livestock producers voluntarily registered for the LEQA II program assessment. The 105 farms contained 47,529 acres, 55,215 animal units, and 506 environmentally sensitive areas. These assessments led to the identification of 728 resource concerns and approximately $2 million of federal and state conservation program applications. Conservation activities were applied toward 474 (65%) of those 728 concerns and included petroleum and pesticide management issues, wellhead management, manure storage and management, stream buffer strips and soil quality improvements. Eight of the 105 farms reached the "Clean Water Legacy" goal with an additional 86 producers receiving assistance toward the certification goal. The whole farm assessments costs averaged $4.20/acre or about
$2000 per farm. Certification Assistance funds ($84,000) were used to assist the producers in reaching the water quality goals.