At the Capitol: April 25-29
Each week during the Minnesota legislative session, the Minnesota Farm Bureau will highlight its work with elected officials to support our members and agriculture. While we advocate for our members on a wide variety of topics, our Board of Directors set six priority issues for the 2022 state legislative session, and our efforts to advance those issues are highlighted below.
Recap: Week of April 25-29
The Minnesota legislature is continuing their work on supplemental appropriation omnibus bills moving through each chamber. These bills will set the stage for conference committees to negotiate the differences to see if there can be agreement on a variety of issues before the legislature adjourns in late May.
Senate Agriculture Bill
The Minnesota Senate passed their version of agricultural policy as part of a larger agriculture, broadband and housing omnibus bill on April 27 by a vote of 41-26.
Portions of the bill that address MFBF’s priority issues that were included investments into meat processing, appropriations for Animal Disease Preparedness and Response, updated equipment for the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, policy improvements to the Farm and Rural Helpline, and a voluntary soil health grant program. The bill also includes $110 million for broadband funding.
House Agriculture Bill
The Minnesota House passed their Housing, Agriculture and Broadband omnibus bill on April 25 by a vote of 70-62.
The House bill includes provisions in line with MFBF priority issues that our policy supports including: meat processing investments, voluntary soil health programs, research dollars and equipment for AURI, policy changes for the Farm and Rural helpline, and appropriations for noxious weeds at the local level. MFBF opposes the inclusion of language that calls for the prohibition of plastic-coated fertilizer and pesticides. The bill includes $25 million in general fund dollars for broadband.
A conference committee will be needed to iron out the differences in the House and Senate bills.
House Environment Bill
The Minnesota House of Representatives passed their version of the Environment and Natural Resources omnibus bill on April 28 by a vote of 70-59. This bill would provide an additional $240 million in appropriations for the Pollution Control Agency, Department of Natural Resources, Board of Water and Soil Resources and other organizations for fiscal year 2023.
When this bill was heard in committee, MFBF submitted written testimony expressing opposition to the following pieces of the bill:
- Transition of the farmed Cervidae program from the Board of Animal Health to the Department of Natural Resources.
- The drainage registry information portal. This should be vetted by drainage stakeholders at the Drainage Working Group to foster mutual understanding of how the proposed registry will operate and be used. Further conversation needs to be held to determine how the registry will impact drainage system operations, particularly the maintenance of existing drainage systems.
- Financial assurance for feedlot permits. This language creates an unnecessary burden for farmers holding or seeking feedlot permits where there are current protections and incentives already in place.
This bill also includes provisions impacting crop protection tools that MFBF is opposed to:
- Creating and instituting policies for the proper use and disposal of seed treated with a neonicotinoid pesticide;
- Prohibiting seed treated with neonicotinoids to be used or sold as feed, food, oil or ethanol production;
- Prohibiting insecticides from the neonicotinoid class from usage on state lands;
The state Senate passed a much different version of their environment omnibus bill on April 21. A conference committee is likely to see if differences can be worked out to bring forth a final bill to both chambers.