Senator Aric Putnam Ushers Bipartisan Agriculture Budget to Senate Passage

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Sunday, May 19, the Senate passed SF 4942, the bipartisan Energy and Agriculture conference committee report. The agriculture portion of the bill, authored by Agriculture and Rural Development Chair Aric Putnam (DFL – St. Cloud), includes bipartisan legislation to support Minnesota’s agriculture sector. 

“The Senate Agriculture Committee was committed to finding bipartisan solutions to complex problems facing Minnesota,” said Senator Putnam. “This bill does what farmers need and takes issues seriously. That includes addressing nitrate contamination in Minnesota’s karst region, stopping the spread of the highly contagious avian influenza, and closing the meat processing bottleneck.”

The legislation tackles the groundwater nitrate contamination issue in Southeastern Minnesota’s karst region by investing in reverse osmosis systems and upgrading private wells. The bill includes $495,000 in targeted funds towards soil health grants, specifically for projects located in Southeastern Minnesota counties to help farmers invest in equipment and alternative practices to reduce nitrate accumulation in our water. It also extends the crucial farmer-led Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) program. Research is essential for finding long-term solutions to our current nitrate issues, and the AFREC program will support research into fertilizer and land use best practices. 

The bill extends Farm-to-School grant eligibility to all preschool education facilities, including home-based daycares and traditional daycare centers. The funds will help ensure all Minnesota children receive access to fresh and locally sourced food, regardless of the care setting. 

The bill provides one-time funding for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to provide grants to secondary career and technical education programs for meat cutting and butchery instruction.  The grants will address the shortage of reliable and local meat processors in Minnesota.

SF 4942 also tackles the impending health crisis of the highly contagious and often deadly in poultry Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) by providing funds for producers to install proven deterrents to keep wild birds away from their flock to prevent the spread of avian influenza.

The Energy and Agriculture conference committee report passed the Senate floor on a 36-31 vote, and awaits passage by the House.

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Aric Putnam represents Senate District 14, which covers the communities of St. Cloud, Waite Park, St. Augusta, Haven, and Minden Townships.

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