North Dakota Grain Growers Association President Jeff Mertz joined a delegation of North Dakota agriculture stakeholders on a trip to Washington from Aug. 29-30. The group met with representatives from the House Agricultural Committee, the Department of the Interior and Minnesota Rep. Colin Peterson’s staff, as well as Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Matt Lohr and others to discuss water management issues.

Mertz said the delegation made the trip to advocate for more transparency and consistency between government agencies on how they handle water management issues, specifically how wetlands are defined.

“We talked a lot about the recent and sudden changes to wetland setback guidelines and initiating an appeals process for contesting violations to these guidelines," he said. "We want farmers to have more options when making water management improvements to their land and protections against litigation due to vague or conflicting guidelines.”

Members of Rep. Kevin Cramer’s staff accompanied the delegation to the meetings. Mertz said it was a step in the right direction to see the number and variety of policymakers willing to meet with the group and listen to their concerns.

“We understand the need for regulations and their importance to sustainable agriculture. Our goal is to find a balance between practical, consistent policy and the protection of farmers’ personal property rights,” Mertz said.

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