Agriculture Committee budget lacking in support for farmers

The Agriculture Committee started this week the important work of putting together a budget bill. The committee was given $40 million to put towards expanding border-to-border broadband, but no other new or increased funding 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.

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.

Senate DFLers did move the bill forward, confident in their ability to work with the DFL House and Governor Walz in increasing the investment in agriculture and supporting our farmers. The bill will be heard next in the Finance Committee and then on the floor before it is expected to be sent to a conference committee, where we will do just that. (SF 958)