Their stake in our resources is deeply personal.
When Mother Nature delivers a blow to us with an act of fury, we come together as a community.
Unfortunately, when various interests attempt to tackle a complex environmental issue, such as ways to improve the quality of Minnesota rivers, it seems to result in just the opposite: the blame game ("Coalition targets farmers for cleanup of river sludge," May 29).
A coalition of city and environmental groups held a news conference last week to urge the state to force farmers to help clean up Minnesota waterways, saying that voluntary efforts were not enough.
I was struck by a quote from one of the participants: "It is harder to pinpoint how much pollution is coming from a specific farmer's fields" than from a city or business.
As the chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the Minnesota House, as well as a lifelong farmer, I welcome the opportunity to engage in this debate and seek practical solutions based on fact, not on guesswork or innuendo.
For me, protecting our resources is a way of life. The fabric that weaves Minnesotans together and contributes to our quality of life is a passion for the protection of our natural resources.
Some may question the impact or effectiveness of a voluntary program led by farmers. I have no such concerns. You have to understand a farmer's unique bond with the land.
It's based on common sense and reality: And the bottom line is you can't bite the hand that feeds you, a reality apparently lost on some.
It's safe to say that like the other 7 billion people on this planet, Minnesotans rely on farmers to feed them. In turn, farmers rely on their land for their livelihoods and understand better than most the importance of stewardship.
They have to ensure that their land remains productive and protected for generations to come. Minnesota farmers have been employing practices for years in support of these goals: reduced tillage, strip tillage, or the installation of terraces and planted buffer strips to control erosion and runoff into streams and rivers.
An investment in our land is an investment in our business, for ourselves, our families and future generations of farmers.
Conservation is a deeply personal issue for Minnesota farmers. They have much at stake in the preservation of our natural resources. Let's put an end to the blame game and work together to ensure that future generations enjoy the natural beauty of our state.
Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, is a member of the Minnesota House.