Senate passes farm focused agriculture bill
The Minnesota Senate passed the Omnibus Agriculture and Rural Development budget bill to fund agriculture, rural development, and rural COVID-19 recovery on April 14. The comprehensive legislation is focused on helping Minnesota farmers while spurring innovation in the agriculture and providing resources for broadband expansion throughout the state.
"Our budget gives resources to Minnesota farmers, so they are able to continue to lead the world in agriculture innovation and development," said Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) Vice-Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee. "We focus on making sure the needs of our farmers are met by investing in value-added agriculture. We invest in reliable biofuel infrastructure and eliminate unnecessary regulations to free our emerging industries."
The legislation helps the state's agricultural community recover from the pandemic by strengthening the agriculture sector supply chains and invests in helping more meat processing facilities expand and grow. Ultimately, these investments will provide more jobs, improve processing efficiency, and provide more purchasing options for consumers.
The budget bill allocates $40 million over the next two fiscal years to the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program. This funding will develop permanent broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. This significant funding from the legislation matches the critical need that has become apparent in the wake of COVID-19.
Furthermore, the bill provides a $3.5 million grant to improve biofuel infrastructure by allowing gas stations to sell higher blends of biofuels. This investment helps Minnesota continue to lead the nation in pioneering clean homegrown fuels like E-15. Additionally, the budget includes grants for farm safety equipment and allows the creation of a grain storage facility safety curriculum. Mental health outreach on farms and additional mental health services are also included, continuing funding for the existing 24-hour crisis hotline.
The bill now awaits action by the Minnesota House of Representatives.