Bolstering Minnesota’s Farmers & Agriculture

Farm to School Funding Increase

Our littlest eaters depend on early care meals for a huge percentage of their nutrition uptake. Senate DFLers are committed to ensuring that all Minnesota children, regardless of their care setting, can receive support to access fresh, locally sourced food. The Ag budget provides a supplemental increase to the program and expands the grant pool to include in-home childcare.

Addresses nitrates in SE Minnesota to ensure that all Minnesotans have access to safe drinking water

Nitrate contamination in groundwater has been a consistent problem in southeastern Minnesota for decades due to the area’s extensive agriculture and karst landscape that makes the groundwater particularly sensitive to pollution. The funding provided in the Ag budget will ensure that residents of Southeast Minnesota have access to clean drinking water through state investment in reverse osmosis systems and helping to upgrade private wells. Additionally, the Ag budget invests in soil health grants to help farmers in the region continue to implement soil health practices through investing in new equipment.

This funding allows for multiple approaches and locally adapted partnerships that help farmers and communities address urgent public health concerns – including that which is due to persistent, legacy contaminates – and to continue to improve farm practices and reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment.

Expanding Broadband Access

Access to robust broadband is now recognized as a critical factor in the economic and social sustainability of all Minnesota communities. The Ag budget includes a neutral session law language change that will ensure that the Office of Broadband Development has the authority needed to award federal Digital Equity funding made available in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Closing the meat processing bottleneck

The shortage of local, small meat processing plants to serve rural communities has existed for many years. The COVID 19 pandemic exposed and highlighted the shortage of reliable, local processors, and reinforced the importance of these businesses to our local communities and the resilience of our food supply. The Ag budget provides funding for meat processing educationgrants which will help secondary schools purchase supplies and equipment, do limited renovations, and gain professional development needed to stand up meat cutting courses.

Ensures funding for AGRI in the tails

The Agriculture Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Program supports the advancement of Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable industries. AGRI has made significant economic impacts by increasing productivity, improving efficiency, and assisting the development of agricultural products. From farm-to-school, to meat processing, to biofuels infrastructure, to beginning farmers programs – so much of that work is in AGRI. The funding provided in the Ag budget ensures that this important program can continue to serve farmers and others in Minnesota’s agricultural economy well into the future.

Protecting Poultry Farms from High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI)

Goats on a farm in Stevens County recently tested positive for HPAI, which was the first known U.S. avian influenza infection in domestic ruminants, which include cattle, sheep and goats. Additionally, Texas officials reported this month that a person in the state had been infected with the virus after coming into close contact with infected cows. Senate DFLers take these recent developments seriously – the Ag budget provides funding for producers to install deterrents to keep wild birds away from their flock to prevent the spread of avian influenza in Minnesota.

Pollinator Research Account

Provides a supplemental increase for MDA’s current pollinator research account. This funding for research is aimed to improve pollinator habitat and pest management practices that reduce the effects of pesticides on pollinators while retaining the economic strength of Minnesota’s agriculture.

AURI: Food Entrepreneur Support

The Ag budget gives a supplemental increase to AURI’s food entrepreneur program. The Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program’s purpose is to strengthen the middle of

the food supply chain in Minnesota through infrastructure investment and to strengthen local and regional food systems by creating new revenue streams for small and mid-sized agricultural producers.

In addition to the grant program, free technical assistance is available to producers, businesses, cooperatives, and other organizations that are part of the food supply chain in Minnesota. Technical assistance services are focused on:

  • Supply chain coordination
  • Food business development
  • Market development services for local and regional food products
  • Consultation on grant applications and grant administration guidance.

Translate All Certified Applicator Tests to Spanish: Requires MDA to offer commercial pesticide applicator exams in Spanish.

Beginning Farmer Equipment and Infrastructure Grants

  • Beginning Farmer Definition: To avoid future litigation, the Ag committee changed the definition of “emerging farmers” and gave the grant program a supplemental increase. The commissioner will now give preference to applicants who are experiencing limited land access. Expands eligibility for the grant program to include farms, agricultural cooperatives, Tribal governments, or local units of government. The section also provides a definition of “incubator farm”.
  • $25,000 of this supplemental increase is specified for a credit market report. The report will include recommendations to the state to establish a market for carbon credits, ecosystem service credits, or other credits generated by farmers who implement clean water, climate-smart, and soil-healthy farming practices.

Cervidae Abatement and Crop and Fence Damage Report

Funding will be used to convene a working group, including the DNR, to investigate and recommend options for addressing crop and fence destruction due to Cervidae.

Pesticide Control

Requires MDA’s Rural Finance Authority to keep track of the number of grant recipients who are experiencing limited land access or limited market access when the grant was awarded. Additionally, a requirement for MDA to convene an advisory panel of outside experts before approving the issuance of an experimental use pesticide product registration. The panel must include MDH, DNR, PUC, and the U of M.

Farmers Market Grant Technical Changes

Amends the appropriation for grants to support EBT, SNAP, SFMNP, and related programs at farmers markets. Funds may be used for staff costs related to program administration, compliance, and reporting, and are no longer limited to only infrastructure costs. Also includes a provision to allow the commissioner to use up to 6.5% of the appropriation for administrative costs.

AGREET Wild Rice Research Funding Reallocation

Reallocates the same funding from the 2023 session as follows.

  • $200,000 (FY 24) and $400,000 (FY 25-26) for research on wild rice natural stands.
  • $250,000 (FY 24) and $500,000 (FY 25-26) for the cultivated wild rice forward selection project at the North Central Research and Outreach Center to include a tenure track or research associate plant scientist.

DAIRI Extension

During the 2023 session we passed $4 M in funding for the DAIRI program with the expectation of a passed federal farm bill. The DAIRI program provides financial assistance to small-to medium-sized dairy operations that participate in the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. This year’s Ag CCR extends the appropriation into fiscal year 2027 to hopefully coincide with the passage of a federal farm bill.

Honey Labeling Requirement

Specifies certain label requirements for food sold in Minnesota that looks like honey but contains both honey and another sweetener. The provision provides that these label requirements are consistent with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and associated federal regulations, and state statutes that prohibit labeling food products in a manner that could mislead the consumer.

The label for such products must include a statement that accurately identifies or describes the food, and an ingredient statement that includes the common or usual name of each ingredient listed in descending order of predominance by weight.

Notice of an Estray Requirement

Inserts a new section into the statutes describing what a person must do if the person finds an animal that has escaped from its owner. If a person find an animal and knows who owns the estray, must notify the estray’s owner within 7 days after finding the estray and request the owner pay all reasonable charges and take the estray away. If the finder doesn’t know the owner, they must

  1. Within 10 days file a notice with the town clerk and post a physical or online notice of the finding of the estray. Or
  2. Within 7 days surrender the estray to a local animal control agency or to a kennel.

Cooperative Financial Reporting

The report must include recommendations for requirements for cooperatives to report on financial conditions and report back with recommendations to the Ag committee by January 3, 2025.

Senate DFL Media