Minnesota’s farmers get up earlier and stay up later than most of us. They face challenges out of their control, from extreme weather events to elevator closures, to animal and plant diseases. 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 Senate DFLers are fighting to invest in and support the hard work they do for all of us.
Grain Indemnity Fund
This Ag budget provides $10 million to establish a new state program to compensate grain farmers when grain buyers or grain warehouse operators breach a contract or otherwise fail to pay for grain or redeliver stored grain. The new program will be administered at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and will largely replace the existing surety bond requirements for grain buyers and grain warehouse operators.
The dairy industry has been hit particularly hard in Minnesota. The Ag budget invests $4 million into the Dairy Assistance, Investment, and Relief Initiative (DAIRI) to incentivize small-and mid-sized dairy operations to sign up for the federal Dairy Margin Coverage program to alleviate the financial risk of inflation and high commodity prices.
Closing The Meat Processing Bottleneck
The shortage of local, small meat processing plants to serve rural communities has existed for many years. The COVID 19 pandemic exposed and highlighted the shortage of reliable, local processors, and reinforced the importance of these businesses to our local communities and the resilience of our food supply. This Ag budget provides over $2.5 million in funding for the start-up, expansion, and modernization of small and medium sized meat, poultry, egg, and milk processing facilities; and for MDA to hire a meat processing liaison to administer and provide grants to small-to medium-sized meat and poultry processors to assist with hiring, training, and retaining new employees.
Additional Supports and Markets For Farmers
The Ag budget supports our farmers by increasing the capacity for the Rural Finance Authority, to process low-interest loans quicker, increasing our international trade market capacity, increasing funds for Farm Business Management, and investing in cooperative development grants to help early-stage agricultural cooperatives advance production and marketing.
Investing In Agricultural Research
Minnesota farmers are innovating in new industries. The Ag budget supports that innovation by allocating $500,000 in Cover Crops (CLC) to organizations in Minnesota to develop enterprises, supply chains, and markets for continuous living cover crops and cropping systems in the early stage of commercial development. There is also over $2 million in funding to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture MDA for grants to the U of M’s Forever Green Initiative to increase the efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota’s farmers by incorporating perennial and winter-annual crops into existing agricultural practices.
Soil Health, Future of Farming And Minnesota Agriculture
Senate DFLers are investing in the current and future needs of agriculture with this budget. This budget invests over $2 million to create a permanent soil health financial assistance program; $300,000 for a new Climate Coordinator position at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; and an additional $1 million to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s pollinator research program.
Increasing Food Access
All Minnesotans deserve access to quality food, but food “deserts” are common in lower-income urban areas where large chain grocery stores are less likely to be open, and in Greater Minnesota where the nearest grocery store might be over 50 miles away. The Ag budget provides funding for the Good Food Access Program, hunger relief grant funding for Second Harvest Heartland, increases funding for farm-to-school programs, and more.
*See Taxes section for information on the Beginning Farmers Tax Credit*