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Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program

About the Program

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years.


MN Ag Water Quality Certification Program sign, MN Dept of Ag text logo, Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment text logo

Certified farms receive:

  • Regulatory certainty: certified producers are deemed to be in complianace with any new water quality rules or laws during the period of their certification

  • Recognition: certified producers may use their status to promote their business as protective of water quality

  • Priority for technical and financial assistance: producers seeking certification can obtain specially designated technical and financial assistance to implement practices that promote water quality

This program will help address concern about changing regulatory requirements from multiple state and federal agencies. Certainty is a commitment provided by the Minnesota Department of Agricuture (MDA), the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).


Become a Water Quality Certified Farm!

This program certifies farmers for managing the land within their operation in a way that protects water quality. Agricultural operations and landowners seeking certification will undergo a three step process. Local conservation professionals assist farmers through the certification process. This program is applied to entire farm operations.


1. Application

The first step is self-verification by producers that they are meeting existing Minnesota laws and regulations regarding water quality. These existing regulations include shore land setbacks, feedlot permits and disposal of waste pesticides. If producers have questions, MAWQCP-licensed certifiers will connect them to the respective local authority. Producers must maintain compliance with existing regulations at the time of certication; certainty does not offer exemption from rules and regulations that currently exist.

2. Assessment

The next step in certification is an evaluation of each field within the operation using the assessent tool. The assessment tool is a computer model in which data inputs are made based on answers to questions related to how the field is managed. The output of the assessment tool is a unitless index score from 1-10 that aggregates a field's potential risk to water quality. A score of 8.5 or greater is necessary for certification elgibility.


The assessment tool evaluates the following:

  • physical field characteristics

  • nutrient mangement factors

  • tillage management factors

  • pest management factors

  • irrigation and tile drainage management

  • conservation practices


Producers can expect to answer question related to slope and soil type, fertility and tillage management, pest management and water-friendly conservation practices-- such as the use of grasses waterways or sediment basins.


To view the online assessment tool, visit

3. Verification

The last step in certification is an on-farm field verification with a MAWQCP-licensed certifier. This visity allows the producer and certifier to go through the operation on a field-by-field basis to identify and discuss any further water quality related issues.


If during the certification process, specific issues relating to water quality are identified, technical and financial assistance is available.


After completing the three-step certification process, producers and landowners have the opportunity to enter into a ten-year certification contract that ensures regulatory certainty from the State of Minnesota. Certified operations may also choose to be publicly recongnized as a Minnesota Water Quality Certified Farm which includes field signs and use of the logo.


Certified operations can update their certification records at any time by contacting the local certifier when land is added or practices are changed so certification status may be maintained.

Why Do Farmers Participate?

  • To protect and improve water in local lakes, rivers and streams

  • Regulatory certainly

  • Recognition for conservation stewardship

  • Priority access to financial and technical assistance

  • To ensure farm productivity for the next generation

  • Greater stablity to plan for and invest in conservation practices

  • To be part of the solution

Certifier for NW Minnesota: Glen Kajewski    218. 563. 2777

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