A group of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) directors took to St. Paul Tuesday to discuss a number of issues with legislators from across the state.
MSGA President Theresia Gillie was among the group that visited over 30 legislators, many of whom are new.
“We decided shortly after the election that MSGA needed to reach out to the freshmen legislators immediately,” Gillie said. “We want them to get to know us on a personal level and rely on us for the correct information on ag issues. They were very receptive to hear from our organization.”
The hot topics discussed included tax relief for school levies, availability and feasibility of health care for farmers, funding for rural roads and bridges, biodiesel, and the need for delaying the buffer law.
“Water quality, including the buffer law, is a top priority for MSGA,” said Joe Smentek, director of public affairs at Minnesota Soybean. “As an organization, we feel the buffer law needs to be delayed until farmers are given what they were promised. One of which is real alternative practices. There is real confusion in the counties as to what is approved and there is a robust menu of practices out there that would be better for water quality.”
Smentek says the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) map issues, as well as Palmer amaranth adds to the list of reasons the buffer law needs to be postponed.
“There are still hundreds of DNR map issues that need to be addressed,” he said. “We want local implementation with local funding, so we aren’t leaving it up to someone in St. Paul.
“Palmer amaranth is also a scary weed for our farmers. It can rob up to 80 percent of the yield in a single field. It was spotted in Minnesota last year and we want to ensure we have clean seed when planting these buffers.”
After the Hill visits, MSGA directors hosted legislators and other ag leaders for a reception at the Minnesota History Center, giving them another opportunity to visit on priority issues. Nearly 40 legislators attended.
“There was a lot of common ground with the legislators and they were willing to listen,” Gillie said. “I am hopeful the relationships made with the new legislators and visiting with the veterans will help bring forth positive policy for all of rural Minnesota, especially the soybean farmers we represent.”
The legislative reception was sponsored by Monsanto and the Renville County Corn and Soybean Growers.
Click here to view MSGA’s 2017 legislative priorities.