Senate DFLers fought for and passed an agriculture omnibus bill that made investments in our farmers and agriculture economy.
A major drought overtook Minnesota in 2021 as persistent moisture deficits combined with above-normal temperatures across the state. In some parts of the state, the drought was as serious as anything experienced in over 40 years, though for most of the state, it was the worst drought in 10-30 years. This bill focused on getting help to farmers most affected by the drought, investing in agricultural innovation and sustainability, and expanding border-to-border broadband.
The bill included $18.4 million in response to last year’s drought:
- $8.1 million for drought relief grants
- $2.5 million for drought relief loans through the Rural Finance authority
- $5 million for the DNR to replace drought killed seedlings, and
- $300,000 resolve well interferences caused by the drought
The bill also included funding to help the state combat the most recent round of animal diseases farmers are facing, including:
- $3 million for the Agriculture Emergency Fund to help the department combat bird flu
- $1.25 million for the UoM veterinarian diagnostic lab equipment to test for chronic wasting disease, bird flu, and other animal diseases
The bill made important investments in the Forever Green Program, AURI, AGRI, farmers’ mental health, soil health, and emerging farmers as well.
$60,000 was also invested for studies on our regional and local food systems and state aquaculture.
Cooperative grants, farm down payment assistance grants, and other important changes to agriculture policy are also included in this important bill.
Broadband also received an incredible boost in this bill. Funding included:
- $50 million over the next three years in state funds for expanding border-to-border broadband access
- At least $100 million in IIJA funds for expanding broadband access
- Over $60 million in ARP capital projects funds for broadband
The bill also established a broadband last mile extension program, a lower population density grant program, and allows the capital projects funding to be used for those programs as well as mapping.
Senate DFLers fought for every dollar in this bill as the Senate Republicans’ bogged down drought relief in other negotiations and invested only $5 million in our farmers in their omnibus bill.
1 in 5 jobs in Minnesota is related to agriculture. Our farmers are facing extreme weather and climate change, plant and animal disease, and an uncertain global economy. We will continue to fight for our farmers as they navigate these difficult times. (HF 3420)
DID NOT PASS
While there were a number of strong agriculture bills this year that did not pass, Senate DFLers were able to fight for an omnibus bill that addresses major concerns across agriculture.