A new voluntary water quality assurance program is now available to Minnesota livestock producers. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) Livestock Environmental Quality Assurance Program (LEQA) helps farmers proactively address water quality issues on their land.

With funds from an environmentally-dedicated sales tax, the program provides an opportunity for livestock producers to take the initiative, on a non-regulatory basis, to evaluate water quality issues and implement appropriate practices. According to MDA Assistant Commissioner Joe Martin, the LEQA program merges the farmers' and government's efforts to obtain a water quality score for any farm. The assessments help guide farmers’ action plans and explain how government programs can help them move forward.

MDA has contracted with Ag Resource Strategies, LLC, to recruit farmers to enroll in the program. The company trains technicians to look at the farm in separate resource management areas, such as the farmstead, livestock facilities, fields and wooded areas. The technicians then develop a confidential assessment and an action plan, if necessary.

Upon paying the $225 registration fee, the farmer receives an assessment, action plan and up to 20 additional hours of assistance from the LEQA technician. More information is available at www.agresourcestrategies.com/ or by contacting Tim Gieseke at 507-359-1889.