The Senate passed the agriculture budget omnibus bill this week. The Agriculture Committee was given $40 million to put towards expanding border-to-border broadband, but no other new or increased funding for the budget was included to support Minnesota’s farmers.
The pandemic has been difficult for everyone across the state, but especially so for our farmers. The state’s meat processing plants struggled as workers contracted COVID-19 and plants had to be closed for cleaning and quarantine, leaving farmers with nowhere to send their animals to be processed. Financial problems cropped up with the economic downturn, and the mental health of farmers suffered even more – all this on top of trade wars, global competition, and the other challenges our farmers face every day.
Despite all of this, Senate Republicans chose not to make any additional investments in our farmers. While the budget bill contained some strong policy and funding that farmers will benefit from, the bill overall frustrated Senate DFLers as we saw our farmers left behind. Even an attempt to improve broadband funding failed as Senate Republicans blocked additional funds for expanding broadband access for rural Minnesotans.
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. They put food on everyone’s tables, and we should be able to do more in supporting the hard work they do for all of us.
The bill passed off the Senate floor and will be worked on next in a conference committee with the House. Senate DFLers are committed to improve this bill and support our farmers as it works through the process. (SF 958)