Week of April 15

Legislators scrambled this week to hear omnibus finance bills that encompass much of the individual legislation that was heard in recent weeks.

As a reminder, bills with appropriations or budgets must be heard in the Senate Finance or House Ways and Means committees before the April 19th deadline to be acted upon for future proceedings. If this does not occur, the Rules committees must grant such bills an extension; typically, this has been rare to see in past years.

Even though this session is a non-budget year, the leadership in both chambers has agreed to a supplemental budget of $4.5 million for the agriculture committees. Both House and Senate share similar provisions in their omnibus bills, including farm-to-school programs, soil health equipment grants, AGRI program funding, and nitrate treatment in southeast Minnesota. The Senate version has livestock protection grants, meat processing education grants, elk depredation grants, and a ten-year reauthorization of AFREC. The House bill includes biofuel infrastructure grants, pollinator research funding, AURI funding, emerging farmer infrastructure grants, and transfers the AFREC account into a private well drinking water assistance program.

Overall, the differences in spending are negligible, but one provision must be noted. The MN Farm Bureau has supported a clean reauthorization of AFREC. Due to the nature of the House language affecting the AFREC account and usage of the fertilizer fee for the drinking water assistance program, we cannot support the House bill as written. The MN Farm Bureau will continue to interact with and inform key legislators of our position, so the bill ends up in the language we prefer.

Bills of Note:

HF 3763 (Vang)/SF 3955 (Putnam) - Omnibus agriculture supplemental appropriations.

MFBF Position: Support Senate bill; oppose House bill 

Bill Summary: Supplemental budget appropriations for the MN Department of Agriculture; nitrate mitigation funding, assorted grant programs, and AFREC reauthorization.

Impact on our Members and Agriculture: The supplemental budget's primary focus is on addressing some of the nitrate runoff issues in southeast Minnesota. More than half of the bill’s budget is going to reverse osmosis filters, soil health equipment grants, repairing and replacing wells, and programs that focus on nitrate treatment. The rest of the budget is for smaller one-time grant appropriations and future funding of the AGRI program.
 Action taken by MFBF: Verbal testimony by Loren Dauer; informed legislators of our position.

Status: Referred to Senate floor on 4/19/24. Referred to House Ways and Means Committee on 4/18/24.