MORTON - The Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Coalition has been active since April, working with farmers and other organizations to discuss water quality issues in Minnesota.
Warren Formo, executive director for the MAWRC, talked about the first year of the organization Wednesday during the first day of Ag Expo at Jackpot Junction in Morton.
"Our water coalition was just formed last April so we are pretty new," said Formo. "This is our first annual meeting that the soybean growers have had since we were formed, I'm just reporting to this group about our activities."
Formo said the organization is working with three audiences - producers, non-agriculture residents and other organizations.
"First we're working with producers, helping them understand what regulations are our there and potential new regulations and how they can be involved locally in those issues."
Formo said it's important to work with people outside of the ag industry to keep them informed on water quality issues.
"Our second main audiences is non-agriculture people, metro people and civic organizations just to make sure they understand agriculture better," said Formo. "So many of the proposed regulations and fixes for agriculture are based on outdated information. We want to make sure there is a dialog so people that are weighing in on agriculture issues from a non-ag perspective are also hearing the ag perspective."
Formo said the group has also been working with state agencies and other organizations to serve as an intermediary for the producers.
"We're also working with agencies, The Pollution Control Agency, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and others - basically to be there as a sounding board and learn from them what they have in mind for agriculture and bring that back to the agriculture groups," said Formo.
Formo said it's important for producers to be more pro-active in getting the agriculture perspective on water quality issues to the public.
"Agriculture and farmers specifically have taken for granted so much of what they do," said Formo. "They take it for granted that people are going to recognize the value of agriculture because that's where food comes from. People don't recognize that and I think for farmers it's almost natural for them to be out there and producing food for a growing population and protecting soil and water."
Formo said agriculture will play a significant role in the world in the next 40 years.
"Over the next 40 years the world population is going to add 3 billion people; we're at 6 billion people right now," said Formo. "Adding 50 percent more people basically in our lifetime - where are they going to live, where are they going to get their water from, where are they going to get their food from? Agriculture is going to play a part in that."
Formo's talk was part of the Soybean Growers Association annual meeting. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association will continue Ag Expo today and Friday.