The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation will be watching the following issues during the upcoming legislative session.
Farm Bureau voting delegates expressed growing concern over the recent actions to balance the state budget that have shifted E-12 school funding to future years and continuing cuts to state aid for local units of government. The school shift is driving up costs to rural school districts as they try to bridge the funding gap created by the shift. The bottom line is local property taxes are increasing to compensate for the changes occurring at the state level.
Voting delegates to the MFBF Annual Meeting reaffirmed the organization’s strong commitment to producing a safe and abundant food supply for all consumers. We will work with legislators in the coming Minnesota legislative session to ensure the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and other state agencies have the necessary resources to maintain the important food inspection and consumer protection functions of those agencies.
Ag Land Property Taxes
Farmers across Minnesota are facing a double edged sword when it comes to property taxes on agricultural land. In many areas of the state, the loss of the market value homestead credit will result in an increase in agricultural land property taxes. Ag land is about the only class of property in Minnesota in recent years that has seen an increase in value. When one class of property, agricultural land, experiences an increase in value and other classes of property see their values decreasing or remaining steady the property tax burden shifts to the class of property with increased value, agricultural land. Farm Bureau will work with legislators and the administration to ensure Minnesota has a fair and equitable property tax system.
Farm Bureau supports efforts to ensure adequate land is available to grow the food, fiber, feed and fuel needed to meet the demands of a growing population across the world. Farm Bureau voting delegates strongly supported full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program to make up for the loss of local property tax dollars when private land is sold to public entities. In addition, when third party organizations purchase private land with public dollars they must follow the same procedures public agencies must use when purchasing private land. Funding streams must be in place to replace the loss of local property tax dollars and cover ongoing management costs. There must be public notice before any state agency or third party organization purchases private land with public dollars.
The ability for Minnesota farmers to manage water on their farms and ranches was strongly supported by MFBF voting delegates. They strongly support the development of an agriculture only wetland banking system and wetland mitigation systems that provide flexibility and protect our precious water resources. Farm Bureau members remain committed to actively participating in TMDL efforts across the state. Research activities such as the Discovery Farms are increasingly important to develop sound, economical and effective solutions addressing water quality concerns.
Regulations and Permitting
Farmers across Minnesota and the nation are facing increasing regulatory and permitting pressures that will or could negatively impact their farms and ranches. Farm Bureau supports changes to government regulatory and permitting processes that focus on timeliness, consistency, transparency and certainty with meaningful early stakeholder involvement.
Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovative Program (AGRI)
AGRI offers a real opportunity for the state of Minnesota along with Minnesota farmers and ranchers to invest in programs and activities that will support Minnesota agriculture into the future. Under the leadership of the Governor, MDA and legislators, this program was funded in this biennium and into the future. Farm Bureau supports agricultural producer input into the decision making process and funding prioritization.
Federal Farm Program
Farm Bureau fully understands the budget constraint policy makers on the state and federal levels are facing. Farmers are willing to help solve the problem, but agriculture must not be singled out and asked to make up a larger share of the coming cuts to federal spending than other programs. Federal farm policy must allow farmers the opportunity to manage risk. Farm Bureau remains committed to being at the table and actively engaged in upcoming negotiations.