Agriculture Omnibus Budget Bill

Senate DFLers fought for a stronger investment in the state’s agriculture economy. Senate Republicans originally wanted no new funding to support Minnesota’s farmers. Senate DFLers fought for and were able to secure $10 million in new funding for our farmers, investing in programs that support our farmers and help feed our state.

This $10 million included additional funding for farm advocates, money for Second Harvest Heartland to continue their fight against hunger in Minnesota, mental health outreach, and more.

Republicans had also originally chosen the state’s Market Bucks Program – a farmers market incentive program designed to help SNAP customers increase their purchasing power at farmers markets and support farmers across the state – as a bargaining chip in putting the budget bill together. It was a cruel choice that ultimately backfired, as our state’s farmers, Market Bucks recipients, and Senate DFLers fought to prevent this crucial program from being cut. We were successful and the program will continue in the state government budget.

Minnesota’s farmers get up earlier and stay up later than most of us. They face challenges out of their control, from weather to floods to animal and plant disease. Despite these challenges, they still go to work every day tending the crops and raising the livestock that feed not just Minnesota, but the country. Our farmers need our support, and Senate DFLers are proud of the support we were able to give them this session. We will continue to fight for our farmers as we recover from this pandemic and what will likely be a long summer of uncertainty due to the lack of rain and the effects of climate change on the state’s growing season. (HF 8)

Notable items in HF 8 include:

Changes to chronic wasting disease management

New policy allows cervidae to be moved from a cervidae farm located within a CWD disease management or endemic zone if the cervidae have tested negative for CWD with an antemortum test validated by the USDA and the herd has met other movement requirements as set by the board. Also makes on technical change.

There is not currently available a CWD test for live deer, though the University of Minnesota is close to developing one.

Seasonal processors of game meat

Minnesota now exempts “garage processors” from the permit process for meat processors, if they only handle raw products, including cutting, grinding, and packaging of raw meat, the products are not donated or sold, and are labeled as not for sale. The exemption is limited to individuals to the greater of either $20,000 in gross receipts or the processing of 200 deer in a calendar year. Registration with the Department of Agriculture is encourage but not required, and there is no registration fee.

Processors that handle white-tailed deer that was harvested from a CWD management area must dispose of the carcass through a disposal method approved by the DNR hunting rules.

Cap raised, changes made to state’s cottage foods law

The cap for cottage foods sales has been raised from $18,000 to $78,000, and home-processed pet treats are now allowed under the state’s cottage food laws.

Changes to Board of Animal Health membership

A position for a livestock producer to the Board of Animal Health, increasing the number of producers on the board from three to four and the total membership of the board from five to six, with two veterinarians also sitting on the board. One of the four livestock producers on the board must be from one of Minnesota’s federally recognized tribes.

Farmer-Lender Mediation Act renewal The state’s Farmer-Lender Mediation Act has been extended to 2027.