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Testimony time extended for Minnesota ban on fall fertilizer rule

ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota administrative law judge extended the time the state will receive public comments on a controversial proposal to regulate fall use of some crop fertilizers.

Written comments now are due by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 15, about two weeks later than originally planned. Public hearings will wrap up next week in St. Cloud and Park Rapids.

The rule was instituted by the Dayton administration, limiting the use of nitrogen fertilizer each fall in many parts of the state. Farmers, while saying they seldom use the fertilizer in the fall anyway, objected to the rule because they had little say in its original drafting.

A series of hearings is under way in front of Administrative Law Judge Jessica Palmer-Denig, who is to take public input and make a recommendation before the final rule is written.

The final public hearings come at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 25, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud and 9 a.m. the next day at the Park Rapids American Legion building.

Written testimony can be submitted at www.mda.state.mn.us/gwprhearingnotice.

The administration proposed the new groundwater protection rule, saying that nitrate from nitrogen fertilizer is one of the most common contaminants in Minnesota's groundwater and elevated nitrate levels in drinking water can pose health concerns.

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