MSGA Hill Visits Focus on Ag Research, Property Taxes, Buffers

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association directors, along with Minnesota Soybean staff, hit legislators head on in St. Paul Tuesday as part of the association’s annual Hill Visits, which puts MSGA directors in front of legislators as both constituents and soybean farmer representatives.

Unlike year’s past, MSGA directors focused on small, targeted groups to meet with decision makers, something Goodhue/N. Wabasha MSGA Director Brad Hovel said helped improve the experience.

“We stayed very busy all day long. We were productive,” Hovel said. “No one really ended up with a break. It was a lot of running but very productive.”

Hovel said construction plans helped dictate the planning for this year’s MSGA Hill Visits, but the experience helped the Advocacy team see future opportunities.

“It wasn’t that we wanted less people there,” Hovel said. “The more people the better. But the construction constraints made it very difficult. We were very effective going two to three people into each visit. And we learned that multiple visits from smaller groups gave us more meaningful time with each representative.”

Paul Freeman

Paul Freeman

MSGA Vice President and Chair of the Advocacy action team Paul Freeman said the small group approach went really well.

“The smaller groups don’t use up as much of the legislators time,” he said. “We were still able to get our points out and they appreciated the experience.”

Another ace up the sleeve for the MSGA this year was the Ag Coalition, which is tackling issues that affect farmers and rural Minnesotans. Hovel was most pleased with the progress the Growers made on this front.

“The biggest thing was our work with the coalition on the research funding proposal,” Hovel said. “We’re all going at it the same way. It’s a good, solid approach to something to get done.”

Other topics MSGA directors covered were property taxes and finding a more equitable tax solution, transportation concerns and the proposed mandatory buffers.

“We talked a little bit on the buffers, but we don’t know a whole lot and we didn’t have any details on the Governor’s plan, so it’s hard to take a position on the subject without knowing what details there are to take a position,” Hovel said.

The MSGA hosted a legislative reception Tuesday night to pull in more legislators and agency people to continue speaking about topics important to Minnesota soybean farmers.

“The legislative reception was an excellent event,” Freeman said. “We were able to meet with legislators in a relaxed environment. What was really neat was to be able to stand around in groups with multiple legislators and have very casual, but educational discussions. I think this allowed both sides to get educated on topics and how the process works.”