Setting the Foundation for 2016

Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) is meeting significant resistance to his call for Pre-K funding and ditch buffers. These are two examples where an incremental approach might best apply. Each situation will require a time period before either can be fully implemented. School is nearly out for this year and farmers are already in the fields planting their crops. Each idea will need a period of time before each can be incorporated into the existing system.

If legislators agree to a process and a schedule for implementation which takes more than one-year, with the first year focused on the policy and the second year the funding it could create the distance needed to structure a legitimate compromise. With timing being the primary issue of significance, other factors come into play.

If both issues an effectively held off until 2016, we move into an election year.  With the Precinct Caucuses occurring in concert with the Presidential election the activist communities on both sides can gear up for the fights. With Pre-K education as a driver turnout for DFL Caucuses can be enhanced by issue advocates along with supporters for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and in certain parts of the state Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). In rural communities farmers can organize against ditch buffers and attend Republican Caucuses and express their opinions of opposition.

On a side note, with improvements in technology and scientific sampling the ability to make accurate assessments of environmental impacts from pesticides and herbicides should be far easier. We have always questioned the concept on non-site based pollution when it comes to agriculture. If poison flows downstream it comes from a source. That source being a piece of land farther up the stream. Every farmer is required to obtain a permit for pesticide and herbicide application.

This means a review of past applications combined with an assessment of what chemicals are present in the water can create a direct link to the originators. There is a specific chemical signature to nitrates, pesticides and herbicides.  If we target specific companies for Superfund clean-ups it seems as applicable in agriculture. Just because everyone did it doesn’t make it right and the liability for the water contamination is then readily applicable to the farmers and manufacturers of the specific chemicals pollutants.

Also, we have the capabilities to place chemical markers in all pollutants and then the application can be directly applied to the source of the dispersal.

Additionally, opponents may argue we need more time and more studies need to occur before we should do anything on this issue. Balderdash. More studies are not necessary they have known the adverse effects for over 30 years. It has been studied exhaustedly. The Agri-business wants to forgo any changes the same way the Tobacco Industry did regarding the ill effects of smoking. If the science seems muddled the action is unnecessary. This is total Hogwash.

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