The Agriculture Committee is starting to pull together its budget bill for the next two years, hearing bills that would fund programs and organizations that support farmers and invest in innovation and developments in farming.
One of those bills heard this week would invest $120,000 in the Northern Crops Institute. The institute started in 1979 as a collaborative effort among the states of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota to promote, develop, and market crops grown in this four-state region. The institute has grown since its inception, focusing on supporting regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain domestic international markets for northern grown crops.
A second bill would invest $200,000 in Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. exists to support and promote the economic growth and vitality of its members and the regional marketplace. Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. (GMG) is comprised of four business units; Greater Mankato Growth, the regional chamber of commerce and economic development organization; Visit Mankato, the local convention and visitor’s bureau; City Center Partnership, a downtown development organization; and GreenSeam, which utilizes agriculture to build on the region’s extensive agribusiness assets to develop the ag economy.
Both bills were laid over for possible inclusion in a finance omnibus bill. It remains, to be seen, however, what funding will be available to support Minnesota’s farmers and our agriculture economy, as Republicans have given the committee only $40 million in new funds this year, and that funding appears to be earmarked for broadband investments. Governor Walz recommended $50 million in broadband funding alone, along with additional investments in farmers and agriculture.
Republicans talk about supporting farmers, but their budget clearly says otherwise. Senate DFLers will fight for more funding for the Agriculture Committee, so we can invest not only in border-to-border broadband, which this pandemic continues to show the desperate need for, but in our farmers, our agriculture economy, and the regional organizations doing the work to make agriculture such a large part of Minnesota. (SF 1269, SF 1517)