A bill appropriating $300,000 in FY 2021 from the general fund for farm advocate services had its first hearing in the Senate. Farm Advocates help farmers who are challenged by natural disaster or financial problems. Minnesota Department of Agriculture has sponsored the program since 1984.
Agriculture has been impacted substantially by the pandemic; the pork industry has been hit particularly hard and has had major distribution problems. Roughly 40% of the pork packaging capacity is offline nationally because of the pandemic as entire processing plants have been forced to shut down due to virus outbreaks. This is creating a significant backlog in the market, which is requiring farmers to make difficult decisions. The Farm Advocates program can help these farmers navigate these challenges, and the money appropriated in this bill is the first step to ensuring their long-term sustainability. (SF 4177)