Program rewarding farmers who protect water quality small, but growing

It’s a potentially risky place to raise beef cattle, and Lochen knows it.
"Well, our kids and we swim in the lake too.
Lochen is aware that fertilizer or manure could run off his farm and pollute the lake, so he’s taken steps to keep that from happening.
Lochen enrolled in a water quality certification program for farmers like him.
An expert from the county soil and water conservation district came out and assessed Lochen’s farm to see where there might be a risk of water pollution.
But state officials say it’s growing.
"It’s not about putting this land into an idle program," Wohlman said.
"The main concern here is that farmers are certifiable, meaning that they would be exempt from future water quality requirements when in fact they are causing water quality pollution from nitrate pollution delivered via drain tile."
There’s also a question about whether this voluntary program is reaching problem farmers or those already using good conservation practices, like Chuck Uphoff, the first Stearns County farmer to become certified.
"It’s important to do what we can do to have success, to keep water quality not only where it is, but to get better."

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