The Senate accepted the House’s agriculture policy language and passed the Omnibus Agriculture Bill this week. The bill includes provisions regarding pollinators, Disaster Recovery Loans for farmers affected by the avian influence, agritourism liability for family farms, and Rural Finance Authority Loans.
Here are a few highlights from the bill in greater detail:
- Increasing the maximum loan amounts for the Agriculture Best Management Practices (BMP) Loan Program from $100,000 to $200,000. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is responsible for the development, promotion, and evaluation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for pesticide use, and provides information on best management practices related to environmental protection.
- Includes changes for the Duluth Public Library’s Seed Library – exempts interpersonal sharing of seeds from home, educational charitable, or personal use from regulation under the state’s existing seed law. The Library Seed Library ran into trouble last fall for being found out of compliance with state law, this change will help make their seed sharing program legal.
- Helping out Minnesota farmers by increasing the loan limits from the Rural Finance Authority. These loans fund initiatives including agriculture improvements, real estate for beginning farmers and livestock expansion.
- A provision to provide agritourism professionals liability immunity. As the popularity of agritousim activities including wine making and tasting, apple picking, and “Breakfast on the Farm” events have increased recently, this bill addresses the growing need for protecting these farms against lawsuits from potential injuries or accidents that occur on the property.
- Several provisions were included in the omnibus bill regarding the avian influenza. The Disaster Recovery Loan Program for farmers is expanded to included efforts to “restore farmland, replace flocks, make building improvements, or obtain an operating line of credit if the loss or damage is due to the confirmed presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial poultry flock in Minnesota.”
- The second provision is a clarification to farmers who experience damage or loss occurring during a “peacetime emergency declaration made by the governor” that they are eligible to receive loans from the Disaster Recovery Loan Program. (S.F. 1554)