Governor Dayton invested $18 million in new money for agriculture, rural development, and housing. In comparison, Senate Republicans did not provide any additional resources for these areas. Much of the investments made by the Senate Republicans are a result of cutting and shifting resources to fund their priorities. (SF 780)
Noxious weed & invasive plant protection
Governor Dayton recommended an additional $600,000 annually to contain, manage, and eradicate noxious weeds and invasive plants. These resources have become even more important with the identification of palmer amaranth in Minnesota. This plant along could substantially increase the cost of farming by $25 per acre or $3 billion annually. Senate Republicans do invest $600,000 for the eradication of noxious weeds but their proposal is different and gives preference to local units of government that are addressing palmer amaranth.
Senate Republicans invest $700,000 in the biennium to expand agriculture, including Minnesota-grown hemp, to new markets. The problem with this appropriation is that Senate Republicans did not include funding necessary to ensure the industrial hemp program can continue as Governor Dayton requested.
The Senate Republicans include a policy provision in the finance bill that limits the commissioner of agriculture’s ability to limit the application of pesticides beyond what is provided on a FIFRA label. The commissioner of agriculture currently has the ability to regulate pesticides beyond the FIFRA label. However, agricultural groups had concerns the commissioner would enact new rules that would negatively impact farmers.
Governor Dayton has indicated that he has serious concerns with this proposal because it was never heard in committee and is not an acceptable language change.
As part of the omnibus agriculture bill, an incentive would be developed to attract businesses to locate and expand in Minnesota. The incentive would be paid on a per pound basis to businesses looking to produce shrimp in Minnesota that meet certain criteria. While the concept is unique considering Minnesota’s climate, it has the potential to create jobs and bring millions of dollars into Minnesota’s economy.
Pollinator protection account
Governor Dayton proposed the creation of a pollinator protection account that would be funded by a $1 million general fund appropriation. In addition, a fee on pesticide treated seeds and on pesticides toxic to pollinators has been proposed. The money in the account will be used for research, education, and to develop educational stewardship. Senate Republicans did not include this proposal in their budget bill.
Next generation of crops
Governor Dayton proposed $2 million in the biennium to develop high value crops to increase market opportunities for Minnesota farmers and address conservation issues. The money would be used for several demonstration projects aimed at conservation while increasing efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota farmers. Senate Republicans include $296,000 in the biennium to fund this priority.
Governor Dayton made several funding recommendations relative to housing, none of which were included in this proposal. The Republicans used shifts to fund their priorities, including taking money from the family stabilization plan and rental rehabilitation. The family stabilization program was funded as part of the equity proposal last biennium. The money cut is repurposed to fund a housing challenge program specific to greater Minnesota and infrastructure assistance for mobile home parks.