Current Issues

Updated October 24, 2016

Day Urges Legislators to Agree on a Fix for Rising Health Premiums

On October 21, Governor Mark Dayton urged legislative leaders to set aside ideological differences and work on a short-term fix to ease the sting of rising premiums next year for the roughly 120,000 Minnesotans who buy health care coverage through the state's individual market.

If legislators can agree on a plan by November 1, Dayton said he would call a special session. He said the timing and location of a special session would be complicated, but signaled it would be best to call one after the election. To read more from this StarTribune article, visit this link.

MFBF President Paap Addresses Importance of Trade on MPR

Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) President Kevin Paap shared why trade agreements are important to Minnesota Farmers with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) news. World trade is vital to his and other Midwest farms.

"Ninety-five percent of our customers don't live here in the United States," said Paap. "They want our products. We want to get them to them." To hear more from President Paap's interview with MPR, visit this link.

New Cuba Regulations Bode Well for Agriculture

Changes in regulation announced by the Obama administration last week offer improved access to Cuba for some sectors of U.S. agriculture. Dave Salmonsen, AFBF's trade specialist, explained some of the changes in Thursday's Newsline.

"There have been some changes for financing for agricultural inputs that U.S. companies can sell into Cuba," said Salmonsen. In addition, a rule that blocked U.S. ships traveling directly to Cuba from returning to the U.S. for 180 days has been eliminated. "That will bode well for the future of increasing trade in agricultural products between the U.S. and Cuba," said Salmonsen. Read more about the new Cuba regulations by clicking here.

Minnesota FFA has Strong Presence at National Convention

Nearly 1,000 Minnesota FFA members were present in the record attendance of over 64,000 attending the 89th National FFA Convention. Over 110 chapters participated in events throughout the week, along with 150 advisors, parents and guests adding to the pool of participants from Minnesota.

Congratulations to Valerie Earley of the Spring Valley Wykoff FFA Chapter, who was elected to serve as the 2016-2017 National FFA Central Region Vice President. Throughout the next year, Earley will travel throughout the United States representing the more than 649,000 FFA members. She served as the 2014-2015 Minnesota State FFA Secretary and is currently attending the University of Minnesota pursuing a degree in Agricultural Communications and Marketing. Congratulations to all who competed and received recognition at the National FFA Convention.

Below are some Minnesota FFA highlights from the convention:
  • 254 members earning a degree or award (CDE, Proficiency, AgriScience, degree)
  • 105 American Degree recipients earning the highest honor of the organization which is achieved by less than half of 1%
  • 100 Minnesota students competed in national level Career Development Events after advancing from state competition
  • 20 Career Development Team Events with 11 earning Gold Ranking
  • 32 of the students competing earned gold ranking individually
  • 18 Superior Chapters who advanced with their National Chapter Award
  • 12 students had the honor of sharing their Supervised Agricultural Experiences as National Proficiency finalists
  • 6 National Choir members
  • 5 National Proficiency winners
  • 5 National Band members
  • 5 Honorary American degree recipients
  • 4 Three-Star Chapters
  • 4 National Talent finalists
  • 2 American Star Farmer Finalists
  • 1 National Chapter Award Model of Innovation finalist
  • 1 American Star in Agricultural Placement
  • 1 National Winning Career Development Team
  • 1 National Officer

All of the results based on National FFA publications can be found by visiting

House, Senate Expected to Prepare Final WRDA Bill for Lame Duck

With the Senate and House each passing its own version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, staff members from both chambers are expected to work during the October recess to negotiate a final bill Congress can approve after the election and send to the president for his signature.

WRDA provides funding that helps put America's inland waterways and port infrastructure on a solid and sustainable foundation to contribute to U.S. economic growth, jobs and global competitiveness for generations to come, according to Farm Bureau. To read more about the WRDA bill, visit the following link.

USDA Funds Rural Cooperative Development

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development has awarded the sixth round of funding to the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) and Cooperative Network to develop cooperative businesses in rural communities across Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) will focus on regional food systems; rural broadband access; senior cooperative housing; employee ownership as a business succession and retention strategy; and several cooperative education initiatives. Read the entire article by clicking on this link.

MFBF Looking for Health Insurance Stories

Minnesota families are experiencing unexpected hikes in their health insurance. Facing premium costs of $26,000 and up with deductibles of over $10,000, Minnesota's insurance market is in need of more sustainable options. Farm Bureau, along with other agriculture organizations continue to work on this issue.

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) would like to hear your story regarding how health insurance changes have/will impact you and your family. To do so, contact Cole Rupprecht at 651-768-2107 or

15 days until Election Day

Are you registered to vote? Check your registration by clicking here to make sure!

If you still need to register to vote, find out how by clicking here. You can update your registration at the polling place on Election Day. In addition, find how what to bring with you by clicking here.

Voting Early 
Did you know that you can vote early in Minnesota? Those who choose to vote early can do so with an absentee ballot starting 46 days before Election Day.
  • Vote early by mail
  • Vote early in person
  • Vote from abroad
  • Track your absentee ballot

Election Day
  • Where do I vote?
  • Voting hours
  • What's on my ballot?

Depending on when you register to vote, you may need to bring proof of residency to the polling place. Find out more by clicking here.

Sign Up for Text Message Alerts

Participation in calls to action by Farm Bureau members continues to be a critical function of sharing agriculture's story at both the state and federal level. We have now added the ability to send text messages to alert members when a new "Action Alert" has been initiated. Register to receive these alerts by clicking this link.

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