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How Minnesota’s fertilizer tonnage fee helps farmers, the economy and our environment

If you’re familiar with Minnesota agriculture, you probably know about the state’s fertilizer tonnage fee and have heard the acronym “AFREC” once or twice. What is AFREC and why is it important for Minnesota’s farmers, economy, and environment?

AFREC stands for the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council. The program, which began in 2008, is tasked with improving fertilizer efficiency, farm profitability, and Minnesota’s environment through soil fertility research, technology development, and education.

The AFREC council is made up of Minnesota farmers and crop advisors from each of the major agricultural groups in the state. The council picks which research projects to fund, with University of Minnesota scientists leading most AFREC-funded studies. That’s because land-grant researchers have the expertise, staff and equipment to conduct rigorous experiments, so farmers know they’re making crucial soil fertility decisions based on the best information possible.

However, not all AFREC funding goes to the U of M. Farmers, crop advisors and others can also apply for grants

In addition to funding research, AFREC also supports educational programming so that Minnesotans can learn about how to apply researchers’ findings and recommendations to their farms. These efforts include:

The council’s funding comes from a $0.40 per ton fee on bulk fertilizer sales in Minnesota. Farmers in the state invest around $0.05 per cropland acre per year. This raises a little over $1 million each year.

Minnesota isn’t the only state with a fertilizer tonnage fee that funds soil fertility research. In fact, when the state legislature created AFREC in 2008, Minnesota became the 12th state to set up such a program.

Soil fertility research is valuable not just for farmers but for all Minnesotans – it affects our food supply, our economy, our drinking water, and our environment. As the world’s population continues to increase, we need to grow more food in more environmentally friendly ways. AFREC research is key to helping Minnesota agriculture continue to move forward.

Learn more about AFREC at MNsoilFertility.com.

Author: Paul McDivitt, Extension communications specialist

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