Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2021 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,000,000
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,000,000
2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,000,000
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,000,000
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,500,000
2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,500,000
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$132,830
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$173,380
Fund Source
Clean Water Fund
Recipient
Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Multiple local partners
Recipient Type
Local/Regional Government
State Government
Status
In Progress
Start Date
January 2012
End Date
June 2021
Activity Type
Demonstration/Pilot Project
Education/Outreach/Engagement
Counties Affected
Statewide
Statewide
Project Overview

The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead on implementing conservation practices that protect water quality. Those who implement and maintain approved conservation practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. This program will help address concerns about changing regulatory requirements from multiple state and federal agencies. Certainty is a commitment provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). For more details about  the program, please visit the Ag Water Quality Certification Program webpage on the MDA's website.

About the Issue

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program began certifying farms in pilot watershed areas in June of 2014, and began certifying farms statewide in July 2015. As of October 31, 2020, there are 965 certified farms that represent 674,871 acres. An additional 1,985 new conservation practices are being adopted as a result of this program.

Project Details

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a first of its kind, voluntary program that supports the implementation of conservation practices on a field-by-field, whole farm basis. Through its innovative and nationally recognized process of identifying and mitigating agricultural risks to water quality, the MAWQCP delivers on-farm conservation that helps protect and restore Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater. The MAWQCP is a national demonstration project that is operated as a federal-state partnership between the State of Minnesota, the United States Department of Agriculture, and Minnesota’s 88 soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs). The certification program has also partnered with industry leaders including Land O’ Lakes Inc., Hormel Foods, and Central Farm Service to promote the program and enroll additional acreage. Farmers and landowners who treat all risks to water quality on their operation are certified and are deemed to be in compliance with any new water quality laws or rules for 10 years. Certification gives farmers and the public greater certainty about regulatory standards and assures the public that Minnesota’s farmers are doing their part to protect water quality.

Competitive Grant Making Body
Advisory Group Members and Qualifications

FY 2021-2022 Advisory Committee Members

  • Bryan Biegler, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, MAWQCP Certified Producer
  • Gregory Bohrer, Walmart Foundation
  • Brian Buhr, Dean - U of M, College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences
  • Nathan Collins, Board Representative - Minnesota Farm Bureau, MAWQCP Certified Producer
  • Lori Cox, Roots Return Heritage Farm MAWQCP Certified Producer
  • Leif Fixen, The Nature Conservancy
  • Paul Freeman, past-President - Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, MAWQCP Certified Producer
  • Dennis Fuchs, Stearns County SWCD
  • Rebecca Kenow, Land O'Lakes Inc.
  • Steve Peterson, retired - General Mills, past-Chair - Field to Market, past-Chair - Minnesota AgriGrowth Council, MAWQCP Certified Producer
  • Tom Raymond, Hormel Foods
  • Peter Ripka, Minnesota Farmers Union
  • Eric Sannerud, MAWQCP Certified Producer
  • Lucas Sjostrom, Minnesota Mile Producers Association, MAWQCP Certified Producer
  • Trent Wimmer, Syngenta
Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minnesota Session Laws - 2019, 1st Special Session, CHAPTER 2--S.F. No. 3, Article 2
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2019: f) $3,000,000 the first year and $3,000,000 the second year are to implement the Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program statewide. Funds appropriated in this paragraph are available until June 30, 2024.

2021 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,000,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The following measures are tracked for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Conservation Program. The values reported are cumulative over the life of the program.

  • Number of certified farms
  • Number of certified acres
  • Number of NEW best management practices
  • Number of partners engaged in promotion and delivery of MAWQCP
  • Funds Leveraged 
Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minnesota Session Laws - 2019, 1st Special Session, CHAPTER 2--S.F. No. 3, Article 2
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2019: f) $3,000,000 the first year and $3,000,000 the second year are to implement the Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program statewide. Funds appropriated in this paragraph are available until June 30, 2024.

2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,000,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$2,173,217
Direct expenses
$2,858,526
Administration costs
$141,474
Number of full time equivalents funded
5.7
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The following measures are tracked for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Conservation Program. The values reported are cumulative over the life of the program.

  • Number of certified farms
  • Number of certified acres
  • Number of NEW best management practices
  • Number of partners engaged in promotion and delivery of MAWQCP
  • Funds Leveraged 
Measurable Outcome(s)

As of December 7, 2020:

  • 977 certified farms
  • 685,767 certified acres
  • 1,998 NEW Best Management Practices
  • 30 partners engaged in promotion and delivery of MAWQCP
  • $13,319,324 have been leveraged
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2017, Chapter 91, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2017: (g) $2,000,000 the first year and $3,000,000 the second year are to implement the Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program statewide. Funds appropriated in this paragraph are available until June 30, 2021.

2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,000,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$2,235,826
Direct expenses
$2,890,606
Administration costs
$109,394
Number of full time equivalents funded
5.4
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The following measures are tracked for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Conservation Program. The values reported are cumulative over the life of the program.

  • Number of certified farms
  • Number of certified acres
  • Number of NEW best management practices
  • Percent of program funds passed through to local government units.
  • Funds Leveraged 
Measurable Outcome(s)

For up to date information please see the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2017, Chapter 91, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2017: (g) $2,000,000 the first year and $3,000,000 the second year are to implement the Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program statewide. Funds appropriated in this paragraph are available until June 30, 2021

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,000,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$2,075,640
Direct expenses
$2,372,446
Administration costs
$127,554
Number of full time equivalents funded
5.4
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The following measures are tracked for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Conservation Program. The values reported are cumulative over the life of the program.

  • Number of certified farms
  • Number of certified acres
  • Number of NEW best management practices
  • Percent of program funds passed through to local government units.
  • Funds Leveraged 
Measurable Outcome(s)

At the end of December 2018:

  • Over 690 certified farms
  • More than 449,000 certified acres
  • 1328 NEW Best Management Practices, saving 127 million pounds of soil per year and reducing nitrogen and phosphorus losses.

55-65% of program funds are passed through to local government units and participating farmers:

The program is leveraging over $9 million in federal funding to enhance programs in Minnesota

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2015, 1st Special Session, Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 3S
F2527 REVISOR CKM S2527-2 2nd Engrossment (05/22/2016) Starting on line 66.29
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2015: (g) $2,500,000 the first year is and $2,500,000 the second year are to implement the Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program statewide. The commissioner of agriculture shall consult with the United States Department of Agriculture to determine whether other state spending would qualify as a match for the agricultural water quality certification program funds available from the federal government. By January 1, 2016, the commissioner shall submit a report on funding recommendations to the Clean Water Council and the chairs and ranking minority members of the house of representatives and senate committees and divisions with jurisdiction over agriculture, the  environment and natural resources, and the clean water fund. Funds appropriated in this paragraph are available until June 30, 2019.

2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,500,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$1,982,130
Direct expenses
$2,373,234
Administration costs
$126,766
Number of full time equivalents funded
5.8
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The following measures are tracked for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Conservation Program. The values reported are cumulative over the life of the program.

  • Number of certified farms
  • Number of certified acres
  • Number of NEW best management practices
  • Percent of program funds passed through to local government units.
  • Funds Leveraged 
Measurable Outcome(s)

For up to date information please see the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2015, 1st Special Session, Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2015: (g) $2,500,000 the first year is to implement the Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program statewide. The commissioner of agriculture shall consult with the United States Department of Agriculture to determine whether other state spending would qualify as a match for the agricultural water quality certification program funds available from the federal government. By January 1, 2016, the commissioner shall submit a report on funding recommendations to the Clean Water Council and the chairs and ranking minority members of the house of representatives and senate committees and divisions with jurisdiction over agriculture, the environment and natural resources, and the clean water fund. Funds appropriated in this paragraph are available until June 30, 2016, and the commissioner may request additional funding for this program for fiscal year 2017.

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,500,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$1,800,000
Direct expenses
$2,370,070
Administration costs
$129,930
Number of full time equivalents funded
5.8
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The following measures are tracked for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Conservation Program. The values reported are cumulative over the life of the program.

  • Number of certified farms
  • Number of certified acres
  • Number of NEW best management practices
  • Percent of program funds passed through to local government units.
  • Funds Leveraged 
Measurable Outcome(s)

• 327 certified farms • 188,153 certified acres • 555 NEW Best Management Practices 65% of program funds are passed through to local government units: -The program is leveraging over $9 million in federal funding to enhance programs in Minnesota. -The program is supporting 8 non-MDA positions.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013: Chapter 137, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2013: (g) $1,500,000 the first year and $1,500,000 the second year are to implement a Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2018.

2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$1,501,256
Direct expenses
$1,408,536
Administration costs
$91,464
Number of full time equivalents funded
3.75
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Measurable outcomes are reported in fiscal year 2014

Measurable Outcome(s)

Measurable outcomes are reported in fiscal year 2014

Source of Additional Funds

$9M NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)$100,000 McKnight Foundation$3M dedicated EQIP funding pool

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013: Chapter 137, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2013: (g) $1,500,000 the first year and $1,500,000 the second year are to implement a Minnesota agricultural water quality certification program. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2018.

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,500,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$1,501,256
Direct expenses
$1,462,721
Administration costs
$37,279
Number of full time equivalents funded
3.75
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Measureable outcomes were proposed in fiscal year 2012 and have remained consistent.

Measurable Outcome(s)

• Number of contacts with farmers, crop advisors and other stakeholders at field days, presentations and other education events (Over 120 meetings, events, fields days, and presentations at conferences and tradeshows)• Number of farmers participating in the MAWQCP in each pilot area within the term of the pilot program (31 certified farms, 12,861 acres)• Number of conservation practices implemented (84)• Number of partners involved in local pilots’ activities (15)Buffalo-Red River Watershed District, Wilkin County SWCD, West Otter Tail County SWCD, Whitewater River Watershed Project, Wabasha County SWCD, Winona County SWCD, Olmsted County SWCD, Rural Advantage, Martin County SWCD, Jackson County SWCD, Cottonwood County SWCD, Watonwan County SWCD, Faribault County SWCD, Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance, Stearn County SWCD• Amount of money leveraged by the MAWQCP ($12.1 million)

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011, Chapter 6, Article 2, Sec. 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2011: (d) $775,000 the first year and $775,000 the second year are for research, pilot projects, and technical assistance on proper implementation of best management practices and more precise information on nonpoint contributions to impaired waters. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016.

2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$132,830
Other Funds Leveraged
$50,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
0.85
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Measureable outcomes were proposed in fiscal year 2012 and have remained consistent.

Measurable Outcome(s)

These measures are reported as a cumulative over the years of the program. For up to date information please see the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011, Chapter 6, Article 2, Sec.3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2011: (d) $775,000 the first year and $775,000 the second year are for research, pilot projects, and technical assistance on proper implementation of best management practices and more precise information on nonpoint contributions to impaired waters. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016.

2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$173,380
Number of full time equivalents funded
0.2
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The MDA is tracking the following information:

  • Number of contacts with farmers, crop advisors and other stakeholders at field days, presentations and other education events
  • Number of farmers participating in the MAWQCP in each pilot area within the term of the pilot program
  • Number of conservation practices implemented
  • Number of partners involved in local pilots’ activities
  • Amount of money leveraged by the MAWQCP
  • Upon two-years of pilot operation: a. Have developed an agricultural operation assessment process that functionally addresses water quality impacts and incorporates a process for revisions as practices, management and technology changes become established and approved. 
Measurable Outcome(s)

Measurable outcomes are reported in fiscal year 2014. These measures are reported as a cumulative over the years of the program. For up to date information please see the most recent fiscal year.

Source of Additional Funds

Additional federal and state resources for this program will be identified by the advisory committee as well as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Project Manager
First Name
Brad
Last Name
Redlin
Organization Name
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Street Address
625 Robert Street North
City
St. Paul
State
Minnesota
Zip Code
55155
Phone
(651) 201- 6489
Email
Brad.Redlin@state.mn.us
Administered By
Administered by
Location

625 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone
651-201-6000
Email the Agency