At the Capitol: March 28 - April 1
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 March 28 – April 1, 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 1 marked the second committee deadline of the 2022 session which means committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other house.. The third deadline is Friday, April 8 and requires committees to act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills. These deadlines do not apply to House committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means, Taxes, or Rules and Legislative Administration, nor to the Senate committees on Capital Investment, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Administration.
On March 31, the Senate unanimously passed their version of legislation that will provide relief to farmers impacted by the 2021 drought. Sponsored by Senate Agriculture Chair Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, the bill allocates $10 million dollars, the bulk of which supports grants of up to $5,000 for producers of livestock and specialty crops, to farmers located in counties throughout the state.
The bill also includes funds to reimburse farmers who secured drought relief loans. In response to the recent avian influenza outbreak, the measure further appropriates $1 million to the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for testing equipment.
Minnesota Farm Bureau has continued to support this drought relief in order to provide needed resources for farmers across the state. The bill was sent to the House for concurrence where they will either adopt the Senate language or head to conference committee to iron out the differences between the House and Senate packages.
Next week the House and Senate will both be releasing their tax bills which Farm Bureau will continue to monitor and comment on to make sure farmers and ranchers have a tax code that provides certainty and recognizes their unique financial challenges.
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. 766 (Hansen) This bill regulates the sale, use, and disposal of seed treated with a neonicotinoid Pesticide. MFBF opposes this bill and joined coalition letters expressing concerns when the bill was heard in the House Agriculture and Environment committees this week.
H.F. 4064 (Youakim) The Property Tax Division bill was heard this week and it includes increasing the Ag2School Tax Credit to 85% for taxes payable 2024. The Property Tax bill will be rolled into the Tax omnibus bill. MFBF supports the increase to the Ag2School Tax Credit and submitted written comments expressing our support that can be found here.
H.F. 14 (Ecklund) Transfers $60 million dollars in fiscal year 2022 and again in fiscal year 2023 from the general fund to the border-to-border broadband fund account. Funds in this account are used primarily for grants to fund the acquisition and installation of middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure for high-speed broadband internet service in unserved and underserved areas. MFBF is a member of the Rural Broadband Coalition which offered testimony in support of this bill during the House Industrial Education and Economic Development Committee.
H.F. 4513 (Marquart) This bill directs the legislative auditor to conduct a special review of costs to counties for the provision of child protective services. MFBF supports this bill as we work to address rising property taxes.
S.F. 4019 (Westrom) This is the omnibus agriculture bill in the Senate. A full bill summary can be found here. MFBF supports this bill and Vice President Carolyn Olson testified expressing our support for four specific topics addressed in the bill: meat processing investments, voluntary soil health practice grants, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and emergency ag funding, and rural mental health. The House will take up their version of the omnibus bill next week.
S.F. 1228 (Weber) This bill expands the Beginning Farmer Tax to include eligibility for the credit for sale of agriculture assets to family members. MFBF supports this bill as amended. Caitlin Keck- MFBF Young Farmer and Ranchers Chair testified in support of the bill during the Senate Tax Committee.
H.F. 3717/S.F. 3472 (Stephenson/Dahms) The House and Senate each passed a conference agreement that would that would reauthorize the Minnesota Premium Security Plan for five years and fund it at $890 million for three years. MFBF supports extending reinsurance to address the rising cost of health insurance.