One of the highlights coming out of the 2021 legislative session was the new agriculture budget. I truly believe that agriculture is the backbone of our economy. Those of us who live outside the metro understand that a thriving agriculture economy is critical to our overall success as a state. Our ag bill provides support to farmers in the fields -- not bureaucracy or administration -- so we can continue to recover from Covid and strengthen our ag communities.
The budget provides grant money to improve Minnesota’s biofuel infrastructure, allowing more gas stations to install crucial equipment to dispense biofuels. It takes steps to fix vulnerabilities in our Ag sector supply chains that were exposed during the pandemic. And it makes critical investments in meat processors which will help create more jobs, improve our processing efficiency, and provide more purchasing options for consumers.
The bill allows for increased outreach to emerging farmers and provides translation services to cottage food producers. It provides farm safety grants and mental health funding, provides investments to continue battling noxious weeds, gives additional resources to boost international trade, and allows for greater funding of farm-to-school programming.
Several bills I authored this year were included in the final agriculture budget:
- $150,000 for Greater Mankato Growth.
- $50,000 for in-market representation in Taiwan to increase international trade.
- $100,000 for Farm and Agriculture Mental Health Outreach.
- Fully funded Dairy Development and Profitability Enhancement program.
- $1.5 million for grants to facilitate the start-up, modernization, or expansion of meat, poultry, egg, and milk processing facilities.
- $800,000 increase in the cap for the Farm to School program to develop and enhance farm-to-school markets for Minnesota farmers by providing more fruits, vegetables, meat, grain, and dairy for Minnesota children in school and child care settings, including reimbursing schools for purchases from local farmers.
- $120,000 increase for Farm Advocates to create a program for farmland access teams that assist existing farmers and beginning farmers on transitioning farm ownership and operations, as well as annual increases to the program beginning in 2023.
Finally, we were able to block efforts by the House and Gov. Walz to increase fees on pesticides, while still making additional investments for Minnesota Department of Agriculture laboratory equipment. There are no new restrictions on treated seeds, something pushed by the House even though it would have had a negative impact on Minnesota’s agricultural sector.
Assistance available for new farmers
If you are looking to start farming, or started farming in the last decade, Minnesota has a terrific tax credit that can help you. The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit A tax credit aimed at helping beginning farmers in Minnesota buy or lease land, equipment, machinery, and livestock.
There are a few restrictions, and the tax credit is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications must be received by October 1, 2021, so apply as soon as you can. You can learn more here: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/bftc.
If you ever have any questions or feedback, or if you would like to set up an opportunity to meet, contact me any time at 651-296-5612 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a privilege to serve you!