Several days after the clock ran out on the 2022 Legislative Session, Gov. Tim Walz signed into law the bipartisan agriculture omnibus bill, providing long-awaited drought relief, investments in broadband and additional support for the Ag Innovation Campus.
“We thank the governor, Commissioner Thom Petersen, Sen. Torrey Westrom and Rep. Mike Sundin for their leadership and working together with our farmer-leaders and staff to move Minnesota agriculture forward,” MSGA President Mike Skaug said. “Although, we didn’t achieve all our policy goals, we’re pleased to see several of our priorities included in this bill.”
MSGA helped ensure $750,000 in funding toward the Ag Innovation Campus, a top MSGA priority in 2022, was included in the agriculture budget. Construction on the crush and research facility resumes this spring.
“We did everything we could to ensure the AIC was part of this bill,” MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek. “We appreciate the Legislature’s ongoing endorsement of this project.”
Other funding highlights include:
· $3.0 million toward the Ag Emergency Account
· $1.5 million for the Agricultural Emergency Account to support animal disease preparedness and response, as well as $1 million to the University of Minnesota to purchase veterinary diagnostic equipment to test for animal diseases
· $700,000 AURI – COLA and laboratory equipment
· $500,000 Soil Health Grants· Increases the Agricultural Chemical Response and Reimbursement Account from $350,000 to $550,000
· Establishes a soil health grant program· Requires report on grain licensing program for how to better protect farmers who sell grain
· $1.25 million for the creation of a new, innovative down payment assistance program targeted toward beginning farmers
· $1.25 million for the Bioincentive Program to encourage commercial-scale production of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals & biomass thermal energy
· More than $200 million to support broadband development and the establishment of a lower population density pilot program
“As farmers grapple with extreme weather, costs of modernization, and unforeseen events like avian influenza, this bipartisan bill helps to address some of the most urgent issues facing our agricultural producers,” Gov. Walz said. “I am proud that we can come together and make investments in supporting farmers through the issues of today while also investing in the future of the agriculture.”
MSGA is disappointed that a historic, bipartisan tax cut was left on the table, along with a bonding bill, which was never publicly released. The tax cut would’ve eliminated the Social Security tax, along with increasing the agriculture homestead credit to $2.5 million and boosting the ag school tax credit to 85%.
“Our team worked very hard on the tax bill,” Smentek said. “We were very proactive on raising the issue of the ag homestead credit, so it’s frustrating we couldn’t get that across the finish line, but we’re going to keep advocating for these proposals.”
MSGA also notched wins this session by preventing the passage of laws that would’ve damaged farmer profitability. MSGA protected the state’s biodiesel mandate by pushing back against a Low Carbon Fuel Standard that would’ve harmed Minnesota’s use of biodiesel. MSGA also prevented seed treatment regulations from being enacted.
“No one got everything they wanted out of this special session, but we still moved the needle,” MSGA President Mike Skaug said. “With an election coming up – and the entire Minnesota Legislature on the ballot – we look forward to visiting with legislative candidates in the months ahead.”
A special session still is possible, and would likely be called sooner rather than later. The 2023 Legislative Session begins Jan. 3, 2023.