Conference committee approves grain indemnity fund

With the 2023 legislative session entering its final days, Minnesota lawmakers agreed to establish a grain indemnity fund to protect farmers against financial collapse of a grain elevator during a conference committee on May 6.

The initial $10 million the state will go toward the grain indemnity fund, which helps prevent elevators from collecting fees on grain sales to put into the fund. If the fund dips under $8 million, a 0.2% fee on grain sales automatically kicks in.

The indemnity fund is included in the overall budget for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

“I’m happy that this one will be a legacy of this year’s agriculture budget bill,” Rep. Samantha Vang, who chairs the House Ag Committee, said in Saturday’s session. “I’m also excited to see that we’re making historic investments in emerging farmers. … We also make strong investments in helping farmers take care of the land, from soil health, to investments in cover crops, to looking at pollinators and just as importantly, maintaining the department and the state agencies under our jurisdiction to be able to provide quality services to farmers and the community by adding staff for support.”

During a conference committee earlier in May, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) Executive Director Joe Smentek testified to MSGA’s concerns over proposed seed treatment regulations. Those provisions weren’t included in the reached agreement.

The ag omnibus budget bill also includes funding for emerging farmers and $100 million for broadband upgrades.

Other highlights in the ag omnibus bill include:

  • $4 million for the Dairy Assistance Investment and Relief Initiative
  • $2 million for meat processing grants
  • $1.25 million for soil health equipment
  • $1.6 million for noxious weed grants to combat invasive species and protect Minnesota crops
  • $300,000 to increase MDA’s international trade staff to support International Trade Manager Jeffrey Phillips and grow markets for Minnesota agricultural products – a policy priority spearheaded by MSGA and other state commodity groups.

MSGA’s lobbying team has had boots on the ground throughout the session and will continue to monitor the proceedings until the session wraps May 22.

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