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Sec. Vilsack to launch Minn. farm water quality program

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visits Minnesota to launch a new pilot project offering farmers incentives to take steps to reduce water pollution from their operations.

The USDA describes the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program as the first of its type in the nation. It's the product of an agreement Vilsack signed with Gov. Mark Dayton in January 2012, the work of an advisory committee that delivered its recommendations last November, and a series of public listening sessions held across the state in February.

The idea is that farmers who agree to adopt conservation practices to control erosion and runoff will get guarantees that they won't be subjected to stricter rules during the lives of their agreements.

Vilsack, Dayton and other officials will announce details at a news conference Monday.