MFBF Highlights State Legislative Efforts
The 92nd Minnesota legislature adjourned on May 23, 2022. Throughout the session, Minnesota Farm Bureau (MFBF) worked closely with elected officials, agency representatives and the governor’s office in support of our priority issues, based on policy set by our grassroots membership.
Over the past four months, MFBF had a presence at the capitol every day, in addition to providing over 30 live testimonies for committee meetings and submitting over 40 written testimonies. We understand the importance of representing our members and the issues that impact them the most as the work in the fields and communities across the state.
Our members also played a critical role, meeting with local elected officials both in St. Paul and in their districts to share agriculture's story and the impact of legislation on their farms and ranches.
“With some of the items that were left on the table at the end of this legislative session, I’m pleased to see what we were able to accomplish for agriculture,” said MFBF President Dan Glessing. “Seeing a bipartisanship effort to support agriculture and rural communities was a big win.
We want to thank legislators, especially Chair Torrey Westrom and Chair Mike Sundin, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and Governor Tim Walz for their support.”
Highlights from the session relating to MFBF 2022 priority issues include:
Drought relief: MFBF made drought relief a priority after hearing directly from its membership the impact of last year’s drought not only on crops, but on livestock and other agriculture inputs. The legislature approved $8.1 million in drought relief grants for livestock and specialty crop farmers to help them recover from last year’s drought. There is also $2.5 million allocated to the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) Revolving Loan account prioritized for those impacted by the drought.
Research and investment: MFBF worked to drive the future of agriculture in Minnesota by supporting priorities that advance its future through research, innovation and investment. Key policy accomplishments include:
- Funding for the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab to test for animal disease;
- Continued investment into the agricultural emergency account specifically for the state’s response to High Path Avian Influenza;
- Additional funding for administration of the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit; and
- Appropriations for IT modernization efforts at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
Supply chain: MFBF prioritized actions that address food and agriculture supply chain challenges both in the short- and long-term to ensure access to markets and a safe and secure food supply for everyone. To support this, the legislature invested more money into the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Program especially for grants for meat, poultry, egg and milk processing.
Sustainability: MFBF members helped lead the way in climate-smart practices that improve our environment through voluntary stewardship. MFBF worked on bringing together agriculture groups from across the state and drafting language to launch the Soil Health Financial Assistance Pilot Program, which creates grants for farmers to continue to implement voluntary soil health practices that work on their farms.
Workforce Development: MFBF recognizes the importance of a strong workforce for the agricultural industry. An important investment into the future of meat processing was made this session for grants to secondary career and tech education programs for the purpose of offering instruction in meat cutting and butchery.
Rural Communities: Access to reliable and affordable broadband is a key component of a strong rural community. MFBF supported the $210 million for broadband expansion that was included in the final agriculture bill including $50 million from the general fund for infrastructure and targeting federal funding for continued investment.
Healthcare: MFBF has long prioritized the affordability and accessibility to healthcare and health insurance, including mental health resources. Early in the session, the Minnesota legislature extended the reinsurance program with MFBF support that lowers the cost of the individual market health insurance plans. The legislature also continued to improve access to mental health resources in the agriculture bill that was approved by the legislature.