By Bonnie Haugen
Farmer, Land Stewardship Project member
I am addressing the report of the Fillmore SWCD board meeting January 21, 2021. I understand that our SWCD needs to be mindful of partnering on educational events. I do not want our farmers to avoid good events if there is a negative association. However, I want the reasons for eliminating partnerships to be relevant and to be true.
I am a Fillmore County dairy farmer and a Land Stewardship Project (LSP) member – not Land Stewardship Program as reported. LSP’s goal is to keep the land and people together. We want more farmers on the land, not less, which means retaining the farmers we currently have and bringing beginning farmers onto the landscape. We are not in favor of huge corporate farms, because we think monopolizations work against many farmers, in particular the small and mid-sized farms. We have other concerns about large CAFOs as well in this karst topography. For example, water quality, quantity and local economic costs. LSP has developed, trademarked, shared, and administered a Farm Beginnings course. This effort is to bolster agriculture, not tear it down. LSP wants to change the corporate system strangling the farmers who are left, not the farmers themselves.
Land Stewardship Project believes that good soil health is important for any size farm. Good soil health impacts erosion, water quality, water quantity, and each farms economics. It can also be a factor of mitigation for flooding and the changing climate. Soil health information is often a topic at LSP events.
When LSP offers soil health events, all farmers and interested people are welcome. Working on soil health issues is not anti-farming or size specific.
This group has many farmers as members. I recently testified for farmers in mediation at the Minnesota House Ag Committee.
Certainly, the SWCD board can approve or disapprove of partnerships. Partnering needs to be done responsibly, and the reasons for or against should be responsible and accurate. Please know that LSP is not anti-agriculture. LSP wants more farmers on the land. Some may disagree on how that should be achieved, but more farmers and farmers being paid fair prices is our goal.