MAWQCP Insider

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December 2019                                                                                   818 producers

                                                                                                              558,108 acres

Recognizing outstanding farmers through MN Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program endorsements

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is launching three new endorsements in addition to the 10-year certification a farmer or landowner can receive. The new endorsements were announced at this week’s Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Convention. The MAWQCP endorsements available to water quality certified producers are for soil health, integrated pest management, and wildlife.

“We recognize that many conservation practices targeting water quality also have benefits for other conservation goals, such as wildlife,” said Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “These Ag Water Quality Certification endorsements celebrate the certified producers who are going above and beyond to implement conservation on their farms.”

The MAWQCP partnered with various non-profit organizations, such as Pheasants Forever and the Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, and state agencies to develop the endorsements. Certified producers who achieve an endorsement will receive an additional sign for their farm and recognition for their conservation excellence.

To learn more, contact your local MAWQCP Area Certification Specialist.


Cannon River Agricultural Collaborative

CRAC group photo

The Cannon River Agricultural Collaborative is a unique public-private-nonprofit collaborative that envisions prosperous farms, healthy soils, clean water, a thriving agricultural system, and vibrant communities in the Cannon River watershed. The Collaborative was launched fall 2019 to help farmers plan, assess, and implement farming practices that are both economically and environmentally beneficial, improving the soil, water, and economic health of their farms.

The Cannon River Agricultural Collaborative is a partnership between the Cannon River One Watershed One Plan (1W1P), Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP), Central Farm Service (CFS), Environmental Initiative, Great River Greening, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN™, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP), Rice County SWCD and Steele County SWCD.

Using each member organization’s strengths and abilities, the partners work with farmers in the watershed to provide technical assistance and implement agricultural practices that address water quality issues, effectively serving as a “one stop shop” where farmers can get assistance and resources. In turn, the farmers can become certified in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Photo (L-R): Brad Gordon, Great River Greening; Alan Kraus, Cannon River Watershed Partnership; Sienna Kampsen, CFS; Brad Jordahl Redlin, Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program; Teresa DeMars, Rice SWCD; Keith Parker, Great River Greening; Kristi Pursell, Cannon River Watershed Partnership; Greg Bohrer, Environmental Initiative; Haley Burns, Environmental Initiative; Ashley Gallagher, Dakota SWCD; Danielle Isaacson, Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program; Spencer Herbert, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN.


Meet Minnesota's water quality certified producers

Ardent Acres

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program has launched an online story map to recognize certified producers and the great work they are doing to protect water quality across the state.

"Francis and Veronica Dierickx have been farming near Palisade, MN since 2012. Their farm, Ardent Acres, produces grass-fed beef and pastured poultry for consumer-direct sales. Since the beginning of their farming journey, they have minimized chemical inputs and utilized buffer zones to reduce soil erosion and maintain the health of water bodies within and adjacent to their land..."

Check out the story map to learn about some of the 800+ certified farms in Minnesota. If you are interested in sharing your story, contact Danielle Isaacson at

Photo: Francis and Veronica Dierickx of Ardent Acres


Find water quality certified farms in the Minnesota Grown Directory

MN Grown logo

For +30 years, Minnesota Grown has been a logo proudly identifying agricultural products grown or raised in Minnesota and a directory that helps potential customers find producers.

New last year, Minnesota Grown members have the option to list their MAWQCP certification in the MN Grown Direct-to-Consumer Directory. This is a great opportunity for producers to promote their products with customers.

Member applications are welcome anytime, but to ensure your business will be included in the printed 2020 Directory apply or renew your membership by December 31, 2019. Questions? Contact Karen Lanthier at or 651-201-6140.

News and Events

Farmers partner with conservation district to reduce runoff into Kettle River tributary

MAWQCP certified producers - Petersons

Russ and Renee Peterson farm west of Moose Lake in Carlton County. The Petersons raise beef cows and calves on an 80 acre farm that has been in Russ’s family for many years. They have implemented numerous conservation practices to protect the quality of water on their land in the Kettle River watershed. 

In early 2019, the Petersons contacted the Carlton SWCD seeking MAWQCP certification for water quality and to discover ways to further improve their land. With financial help from a MAWQCP grant and funds through the Carlton SWCD Cost-Share program, the Petersons we able to implement two additional projects to further protect water quality.

Photo (L-R): Ryan Clark, Area Certification Specialist with the Carlton SWCD; Russ and Renee Peterson.

Read the full article.

Benson Farm Achieves Water Quality Certification

Benson Farm

Dennis and Nancy Benson and their son Greg enjoy working with their cow - calf herd and managing the pastures on their farm in central Wadena County. One of their top priorities in their operation is water and soil conservation.

The Benson’s years of conservation efforts have reduced soil erosion, preserved their topsoil, slowed water runoff rates and protected the nearby wetlands, streams, lakes and groundwater. In addition to achieving water quality certification, the Benson’s have received the conservation awards of: Wadena SWCD Conservationist of the Year; Area 2 Conservationist of the Year; and the River Friendly Farmer Award.

Photo (L-R): Greg Benson, Nancy Benson, Dennis Benson, Jim Lahn

Read the full article.

The Minnesota Wild wants to share your story!

The MN Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is partnering with the Minnesota Wild to share the stories of ice rinks on the farm - whether its a flooded rink, farm pond, lake shore or creek. Just like us, the Wild knows that Minnesota's farmers care about water - both liquid and solid - and have a tradition of enjoying all that makes Minnesota a great place to live and farm. Send us your photos and story about your on-farm ice rink so that you may be featured in social media and on video with the Minnesota Wild!

Clean Water Land & Legacy logo

Certify your land, water and legacy for years to come.

Contact your local soil and water conservation district office to get started.