For the first time in Minnesota state legislative history, full funding for the Forever Green Initiative, —$10 million for the biennium—has been included in an omnibus finance bill. This is something to celebrate — it would not have been possible without the efforts of Land Stewardship Project members, our allies, and legislative champions. This year alone, hundreds have testified, spoken at press conferences, lobbied, written letters in their local newspapers, and e-mailed or called their legislators to say: the time is now to fully invest in the Forever Green Initiative.
But this full funding is only included in the House Omnibus Legacy Finance Bill, the Senate's version funds Forever Green at a much lower amount. If we don’t continue to act, we could lose this big gain before the session ends.
The Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota, a land grant university, is a critical piece of the puzzle to changing the landscape in Minnesota. By developing and creating markets for cover crops and perennials, including forages for grazing, this program is helping farmers diversify the landscape, build resiliency, clean our water systems, sequester carbon, and build soil health in a profitable way. Publicly investing in this program means supporting the kind of public good and agricultural future that benefits rural communities, family farmers, and the land.
With just about two-and-a-half weeks left in the legislative session, there are many more steps we have to go through to make fully funding of the Forever Green Initiative a reality. While the House Omnibus Legacy Finance Bill appropriates full funding for the Forever Green Initiative, the Senate version would appropriate only $2.5 million, or 25 percent of what's needed for this program.
For more details about Forever Green's status at the Minnesota Legislature (and other LSP priorities), read the LSP Blog: MN Legislature: 2019 Session Heads into the Home Stretch.
How can you engage in the final weeks of the legislative session? Take our survey here.