IMA supports revised wild rice legislation, creating diverse work group to address the issue

Posted May 21, 2018

IMA supports revised wild rice legislation, creating diverse work group to address the issue

The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA), which represents the 15,000 Minnesotans whose jobs are supported by Minnesota’s iron mining industry, supports wild rice legislation that passed both the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate with bipartisan support yesterday.

The legislation, House File 3422, creates a diverse work group and provides funding to explore how best to enhance wild rice habitat and continue the grain’s growth in Minnesota. It would allow the Governor and Legislature to appoint a cross section of subject matter experts, including tribal members, environmental advocates, mining and power industries, municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and state government representatives.  

“This is a responsible path forward for wild rice in Minnesota,” said IMA President Kelsey Johnson. “It provides an opportunity to answer outstanding concerns about wild rice science while responding to Governor Dayton’s concerns when he vetoed wild rice legislation earlier this session.”

In a letter that accompanied his recent veto of previous legislation, Governor Dayton noted that the current wild rice standard – which has never been enforced – needs more work. The outdated standard, based on limited 1940s field research, does not take into account key factors affecting wild rice, such as water depth or invasive plant species. Updated science shows wild rice is capable of thriving with sulfate levels up to 150 times more than the existing and obsolete standard.

“We all want to make certain that the wild rice crop continues to flourish in Minnesota, but it’s clear substantially more work and scientific analysis needs to be done to find the best approach,” Johnson said.

Community and local government leaders, organized labor,  businesses, and municipal wastewater treatment facilities from across Minnesota have joined with the IMA in support of finding ways to move away from the current obsolete standard.  

“House File 3422 will create a broad and diverse work group of key Minnesota stakeholders to find science-based solutions and best management practices for wild rice habitat in Minnesota,” Johnson said. “We have heard the governor, and we have improved the legislation as he requested.  We now respectfully request that Governor Dayton sign this important legislation into law.