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Column: Farmers are the first conservationists

We write on behalf of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, the North Dakota Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association to set the record straight regarding Jack Zaleski's column published Aug 13. Specifically...

We write on behalf of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, the North Dakota Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association to set the record straight regarding Jack Zaleski's column published Aug 13. Specifically, we take issue with Zaleski's assertions that farm leaders "want to be able to pollute where and when they want" and "farmers can ditch and drain with impunity because of loopholes written into state law by farmer-legislators." Such misconceptions as this must be addressed.

Farmers are the first conservationists. While others enjoy the land and water resources of our state, a farmer's existence depends upon those resources. That is why today's agriculture employs the most up-to-date technologies.

It is always in the best interest of North Dakota's No. 1 industry-agriculture-to ensure that our environment is well-maintained and well taken care of. To demonstrate this, NDGGA, along with North Dakota Ag organizations and the North Dakota Ag industry, host an environmental tour each year bringing EPA officials into North Dakota for a week to showcase North Dakota agriculture's environmental stewardship. North Dakota agriculture is proud of its collective care, the success of which is shown in water quality studies conducted by the state. To suggest that farmers and farm leaders "want to be able to pollute where and when they want" isn't borne out by the facts.

Next, it is incorrect to state "farmers can ditch and drain with impunity because of loopholes written into state law by farmer-legislators." During the recent legislative session, only 30 of the 141 legislators (21 percent) list farming or ranching as their occupation; hardly a "majority" that has the ability to create "loopholes' in state water law that would negatively impact North Dakota and its citizens. Additionally, federal law under the Swampbuster provisions and Clean Water Act combined with federal enforcement agencies such as the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, United States Army Corps of Engineers and the North Dakota State Water Commission prevent wanton drainage from occurring. North Dakota Water Resource Districts and the permitting process under North Dakota state law prohibits "drainage with impunity" as well. NDGGA, NDCGA, and NDSGA support orderly water management for North Dakota. When managed correctly, North Dakota water resources and North Dakota citizens are protected. Accusing North Dakota agriculture of negatively manipulating and polluting North Dakota waters simply isn't supported by the facts nor by the scientific studies.

Weinand is president of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association; Klosterman is president of the Corn Growers Association; and Olson is president of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association

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