ST. PAUL – The busy 2021 legislative session is moving into the home stretch with the release of omnibus bills from committees, including for agriculture.
The House and Senate Agriculture Committees passed their respective omnibus bills this week. While there are some differences between the two versions, both address several key priorities of Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members.
“The pandemic’s disruption of our largely consolidated food system made it more apparent that farmers, consumers, workers, and rural communities will all benefit from a food system that is more distributed, resilient, and fair,” MFU President Gary Wertish said. “The new investments outlined in this package are a meaningful first step.”
Both bills address MFU priorities, including:
In the Senate bill, authored by Chair Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), MFU is glad to see investments in:
The House bill, authored by Chair Mike Sundin (DFL-Esko), invests in MFU priorities including:
“Passing a balanced budget is always a challenge, especially with a divided Legislature and COVID-19 forcing most activities into virtual formats,” President Wertish said. “While agriculture is the foundation of Minnesota’s economy—generating $112 billion in economic impact and supporting more than 430,000 jobs—our budget for MDA makes up less than 1% of the state’s overall budget. We support strong investment in farmers and rural communities.
“On behalf of our members, I’d like to thank Chairs Sundin and Westrom, minority leads Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck) and Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), and the Agriculture Committee members for their hard work crafting these proposals.”
Both bills have one more committee stop before being sent to the floor for a vote. After the House and Senate approve, the proposals will be negotiated in conference committee where MFU will continue to advocate for a strong budget that supports family farmers. The legislature adjourns on midnight on May 17 and a state budget needs to be approved by June 30 to avoid a government shutdown.