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“Over the past 10 years I’ve received $241,000 in subsidy and price support payments but zero dollars for conservation.”

 
-Dave Legvold
 
 
Farm and Food Voices
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Minnesota Farmer Rallies for a Shift in Priorities

Dave LegvoldCertainly the bottom line for Minnesota’s Dave Legvold is about dollars and cents. But it is also about the environment and Legvold wishes that more of the public dollars involved in agriculture had environmental strings attached.

“Over the past 10 years I’ve received $241,000 in subsidy and price support payments but zero dollars for conservation,” Legvold says. And he doesn’t believe he’s the only farmer who thinks a priority shift is necessary.

“My farming neighbors would all like to see greener federal farm policy,” he says, “because I believe that we as farmers are on squishy ground when program payments are just out there with no or very little assurance that getting them results in better farming practices. Our urban neighbors need to know that for the dollars invested in agriculture they get something back: the conservation of soil and water.”

Type of Operation:
Uses strip-till or no-till to grow commodity corn, soybeans, and hay and grazes a few head of beef cattle.

Land in Agriculture:
700 acres

Greatest Challenge:
The financial risks involved with agriculture—needs a better safety net.

Unmet Need :
More emphasis (local and federal) on incentives to help the environment.

That’s the message Legvold has carried to Minnesota State Legislature as well as to the United States Congress through his involvement with AFT, his local Cannon River Watershed Partnership, and the internationally-focused Oxfam organization.

He has been very involved with AFT’s BMP (Best Management Practices) Challenge which makes it easier for farmers to reduce fertilizer use and use conservation tillage practices while being protected from any potential loss of income. Implemented in several states, participating farmers can test BMP’s that have been developed to save money and maintain optimal yields while helping protect soil and water and reducing greenhouse gasses in the air.

Legvold has also served as the executive director of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership for the past two years. The partnership, which was created in 1991, dovetails nicely into the BMP Challenge goals. For instance, the Challenge might offer a payment to a farmer for using soil-saving minimum tillage equipment—thereby saving soil that might otherwise become runoff into the watershed.

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American Farmland Trust