ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Walz-Flanagan budget provisions unveiled Jan. 20 include funding for several initiatives championed by Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU).
The budget provisions include an investment of $10 million to help Minnesota farmers and livestock producers who suffered losses because of the severe drought experienced in 2021. This includes $5 million in rapid response grants to livestock producers and specialty crop growers and $5 million for the Rural Finance Authority’s Disaster Recovery Loan Program, which makes zero-interest loans available to farmers impacted by the disaster. MFU called for these investments in a letter to the Walz-Flanagan administration this summer and in testimony before the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee.
The administration also proposes to invest $3 million to support and expand the state’s overall livestock processing capacity. This is great news for Minnesota’s livestock producers and an issue that MFU has been working on since grassroots members elevated the issue at their county conventions in 2020. The Walz-Flanagan administration proposes to use the money to supplement the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Program’s existing grants for meat, poultry, egg and milk processors by creating a program outside of the AGRI appropriation to provide additional grants to processors.
The budget targets $3 million over the course of three years to help small to medium-sized meat processors attract and retain employees, as well as $2.5 million in grant funds to Central Lakes College and Ridgewater College for meat cutting and butchery programs. The budget contains $200,000 over three years for the state’s Meat and Poultry Inspection program to enable the state to meet an increased demand for inspection services for small, local and niche processors.
The administration’s plan to invest $170 million to expand broadband access to all Minnesotans is also a huge win for Minnesota’s family farmers who use the internet to run their business, visit their doctor and gain new skills through online educational offerings.
“It’s clear from these budget provisions that the Walz-Flanagan administration is listening to family farmers,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “These proposed investments reflect priorities brought forward by Minnesota Farmers Union members from across the state. We are elated to see these investments that will not only help family farmers emerge from the pandemic more resilient, but also help them go forward to grow Minnesota’s economy.
“We look forward to seeing the rest of the Walz-Flanagan budget plan and working with the legislature to get these proposals funded and the money out to our members as they continue to do the work of strengthening their communities,” Wertish added.
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
— Minnesota Farmers Union