I’m writing about the article that appeared in the Sept. 25 Agweek, “MnDOT abruptly ends 25-year program with organic farmers.”
We pride ourselves in keeping people engaged and informed. In this case, we didn’t do that and we apologize. We agree there needs to be better communication with the seven land users who had agreements with the Minnesota Department of Transportation; over the past month, we have reached out to all of them and will continue to work with them.
There are a few things I want to clarify that the article did not capture accurately. First, while we’ve had a history of entering into agreements with organic farmers on an individual basis — this is not a formal program. Second, while we are evaluating the success and effectiveness of these agreements, we have not permanently ended them. We want to ensure that the agreements both meet the needs of farmers and meet our own responsibilities to control the spread of noxious weeds and keep the traveling public safe.
As we evaluate the path forward, we commit to working with our participating farmers to do so. I appreciate the opportunity to take responsibility for what we can improve on and to set the record straight.
(Schoenfelder is the transportation district engineer for Minnesota Department of Transportation District 6.)