ST. PAUL, Minn. — The legislative session is well underway, with several Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) priorities being heard in committees.
MFU priorities, otherwise known as special orders of business, include:
- Drought relief and climate resilience
- Local and regional processing
- Competitive markets
- Generational farm transition
- Affordable health care
These priorities, along with other issues, will be discussed during the MFU Lobby Day, March 9. Lobby Day will be held virtually. Register at https://bit.ly/3rwNvjr.
“I always look forward to our Lobby Day as it’s a great opportunity for our members to connect with their legislators,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “On Lobby Day, MFU’s family farmer members bring their everyday experiences to share with their legislators. It’s heartening to see the connections made as farmers talk about the issues that are important to them and their communities. Sometimes, members and legislators share a common complaint or challenge. Other times, they talk of goals.”
“Lobby Day is one of the best opportunities for our members to engage with their legislators and share their stories,” said MFU Vice President Anne Schwagerl. “MFU members make a difference in policymaking when they attend Lobby Day and share their concerns.”
MFU’s Lobby Day is in addition to work MFU staff and members do each day at the legislature. Several members have testified at committee hearings already this session.
MFU priorities that have had a hearing include:
- $10 million for drought relief, including Rapid Response Grants for livestock and specialty crop producers to recover losses and make themselves more resilient.
- A proposal to allow a MinnesotaCare buy-in option, which MFU members have long advocated for to help control health care costs for family farmers, rural residents and businesses.
In addition to the priorities listed above, MFU strongly supports the following agricultural investments proposed by the Walz-Flanagan administration:
- $8.7 million for livestock processing including to expand and start new plants, recruit and retain employees, support technical training and strengthen inspection.
- $27 million to help farmers tackle climate change through grants to help implement voluntary soil health practices.
- Reauthorizing Cooperative Development Grants.
- $1.5 million to help the state prepare for animal disease outbreaks.
- $500,000 to help farmers build websites to sell products.
- $2 million to support emerging farmers.
- $1.5 million to help farmers markets remain resilient.
- $500,000 to help farmers afford farm business management education.
- $1 million to combat noxious weeds.
- $3 million for the Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota.
- $6.5 million for food assistance, including $1.5 million for the Good Acre’s Local Emergency Assistance Farmer Fund (LEAFF).
- $5 million to create a Grain Indemnity Fund to protect producers in the event of fraud, elevator collapse or other events that result in nonpayment to producers.
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 https://www.mfu.org/, and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
— Minnesota Farmers Union