Minnesota farmers can be reimbursed for water testing efforts
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is providing reimbursements for produce farmers who conducted water testing over the last three years.
ST. PAUL -- Produce farmers across the state can now receive reimbursements if they've tested water for E. coli in the last three years.
In a release from the state Department of Agriculture, produce farmers have until March 19 to apply for reimbursements for up to $400 to cover testing expenses. Alexandra Cortes, an outreach analyst for MDA, said eligibility extends to farmers who conducted testing from Sept. 30, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2020.
Farmers must have sold a minimum annual average of $5,000 in produce that is covered by the Food Safety Modernization Act's Produce Safety Rule. Cortes said the rule sets minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of certain fresh produce.
"That rule, for the first time, included a requirement for farms, that are covered under the rule, to test their agricultural water used for generic E. coli, which is an indicator of fecal contamination," Cortes said. "The full requirements for testing water don't go into effect until 2022. But, our program has been doing education about this for the past several years, so we know although farmers weren't required to do this testing, some already have."
Applications for the reimbursements are available on the agency's website, mda.state.mn.us . A full grant program will be established in 2022 to provide financial support for water testing.
"Produce farms are spread out throughout the state, but there are higher concentrated areas in the middle of the state," Cortes said. "There's also a higher concentrated number of farms in Beltrami County."