At the Capitol: April 4-8
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 4-8, 2022
During the week, our public policy team and leadership connected with elected officials and other policy influencers to share our member's stories and build relationships to reinforce our position as a leader in agriculture issues in Minnesota.
Friday, April 8 marked the third committee deadline for the Minnesota legislature which requires committees to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills. This meant there was a flurry of action this week on omnibus bills moving out of committees.
Easter and Passover break will begin on April 9, 2022 and the Legislature will be in recess through Monday, April 18, 2022. Committees and legislative activities may resume on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
On Thursday, April 7, the Minnesota legislature provide $1 million in funding to the Agriculture Department to address the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) response in Minnesota. The amendment received near unanimous support in both the senate and house. MFBF strongly supported this urgent funding and led a letter to the House and Senate asking for support.
Progress was also made on much needed drought relief this week. The state House and Senate have each passed their versions of a drought relief package for livestock and specialty crop producers. However, during Thursday’s floor session, the House refused to concur with the Senate version sending this issue to conference committee. Both the House and Senate have now appointed conferees and will continue to negotiate the differences between the two packages in order to provide grants and loans soon to impacted farmers. MFBF strongly supports drought relief for farmers and ranchers and urges the legislature to move quickly.
Other Farm Bureau priority issues continued to advance at the state capitol this week (please note this is not an inclusive list of bills supported or opposed by MFBF):
H.F. 4366 (Sundin) The House Agriculture bill was heard, amended, and passed out of committee. Among other things, this bill contains money for meat processing in a variety of ways, a voluntary soil health grant program created, funding for AURI, prohibits the sale and use of plastic-coated pesticides, fertilizer, and seed, and provides money for the Animal Disease Preparedness and Response: Ag Emergency Fund . MFBF President Dan Glessing testified to highlight key pieces of MFBF policy and written testimony was also submitted.
H.F. 4492 (Hansen) The House Environment bill was heard, amended, and passed out of committee on party line votes. The House Research summary of the bill as amended by the first Delete All amendment can be found here. Overall, this bill supplements budget appropriations for the Pollution Control Agency, Department of Natural Resources, Board of Water and Soil Resources and other organizations. It also includes statutory and other changes related to the environment and natural resources, including the DNR’s policy and technical proposals. MFBF submitted written testimony highlighting key pieces of our policy specifically opposing transition of the farmed Cervidae program from the Board of Animal Health to the Department of Natural Resources, the creation of a drainage registry information portal, and the need for financial assurance for feedlot permits.
H.F. 3669 (Marquart) The House Tax omnibus bill was heard, amended and passed out of committee. MFBF submitted written testimony in support of multiple provisions included in the bill including: expansion of the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit to include the sale of agricultural assets to family members, allowing for portability in the Minnesota estate tax law, increasing the Ag2School Tax Credit to 85%, exempting fencing materials from the state sales tax, classifying hemp as an agricultural product, and calling for a study on the cost of child protection services to county governments.
S.F. 3692 (Nelson) The first of two Senate omnibus tax bills was passed out of committee and was voted on in the full Senate. Primarily this bill will reduce the state’s first tier income tax rate from 5.35 percent to 2.8 percent, eliminate income taxes on all social security benefits and provide state tax conformity to a number of federal provisions. MFBF Public Policy Specialist Kaytlin Bemis testified in the Senate Tax Committee hearing offering our support of estate tax portability that is included in this tax bill. MFBF will continue to work with the Senate Tax Committee to include additional provisions important to rural Minnesota in the additional tax bill coming later this session.