Minnesota Farm Bureau Outlines Focus Areas for 2016

During a comprehensive discussion on November 20, voting delegates at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) 97th Annual Meeting voted on and adopted policy positions for 2016. Based on those actions, the MFBF Board of Directors identified six major focus areas that will serve as the roadmap for public policy: water, agricultural production practices, taxes, transportation, education and energy.

MFBF will work hard to achieve appropriate recognition of voluntary conservation practices already responsibly carried out by Minnesota farmers. Agriculture’s role in meeting water quality challenges can best be fulfilled through site-specific actions addressing actual problems where they occur and not through a top-down process that applies restrictions and limitations through the use of statewide mandates, regulations or permit requirements.

Adjusting production practices need to be based on realistic consideration which take into account variability of options, agronomic impacts, economic impacts and proactive solutions. State agencies dictating centrally-planned land-use requirements will neither be effective in improving water quality nor accepted by cooperative partners.

Agricultural Production Practices
Minnesota farmers are committed to providing safe food for families. Minnesota farmers have adapted and continue to adopt ever-improving production methods, techniques and technologies. Not all farm families select the same production methods, but they still demonstrate their commitment to care for their livestock, manage and improve the quality of their environment and enhance the quality of the food and fiber they produce.

The ability to voluntarily determine the best production practices that fit their farms/ranches result in sustainable futures for farm families and yield ecological benefits. MFBF will promote the necessity for property rights and avoidance of negative restrictions by government agencies seeking to force their land-use agenda.

Property tax burdens are threatening family farms who are struggling to generate revenue from the land to pay required taxes. The present property tax system and cost requirements to support capital improvements for local government and educational facilities in rural portions of Minnesota is not equitable nor viable on a long-term basis.

County Farm Bureaus will partner with their neighbors to be aware of how expenses of local government translate to property tax loads and work with their local government and school boards to maintain responsible spending limits. MFBF will continue to be involved in legislative actions necessary to address the range of issues associated with escalating property taxes.

MFBF’s transportation emphasis will stress rural Minnesota transportation infrastructure needs being equitably addressed. Significant attention needs to be given to the funding needs of local roads and bridges without automatically implying tax increases as the solution. Bonding and a variety of other options need to be included.

Agricultural education and finding workable solutions for adequate funding are priorities for MFBF. Continued attention is needed to maintain and build strong youth programs like FFA and 4-H and effective farm business management assistance for farmers. Strengthening farm safety education and training is also a priority area for Farm Bureau.

Minnesota farmers are key producers of vital renewable energy and highly dependent on reliable and affordable energy for their farms and homes. MFBF will join others to press for federal actions to honor Congressional intent for Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS). Important land use and tax ramifications will require attention as additional alternative energy projects take shape.