Grassy buffer strips may rise to fight another day! Mike Jaspers, whom Governor Dennis Daugaard has appointed to replace Jaspers’s brother-in-law Lucas Lentsch as Secretary of Agriculture, says concerns about water contamination make him want to revisit Senate Bill 136, the grassy buffer strips incentive that Governor Daugaard vetoed this year:
Jaspers said he wants to sit down with Daugaard and others to review vetoed Senate Bill 136, which would have offered tax incentives to farmers who plant grassy buffer strips between their crops and bodies of water. Jaspers wants to see if there could be a revision of the bill, or a similar alternative that would help prevent soil from washing away.“There have been problems in other states where soil being washed away has contaminated water for towns, and farmers are being blamed for it,” Jaspers said. “We want to be more proactive about it now, so it’ll benefit agriculture in the long run” [Tatum Dean, “Ag Ownership Key Issue for New Ag Secretary in South Dakota,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.06.12].
That’s a sit-down I’d love to sit in on! SB 136 was a reasonable and entirely voluntary incentive program that would have provided cost-effective protection of water quality and wildlife habitat. It was already a healthy compromise down from Minnesota’s mandatory riparian buffer requirement. If Jaspers proves persuasive in his conversation with the Governor, I’ll be happy to see SB 136 work its way through the 2017 Legislature to a more receptive Governor’s desk.