State Policy Update: Time for Legislative Action on the Farm Crisis is Now

At the Land Stewardship Project, we know that we depend on each other to thrive and that our government, public institutions, and economy exist to serve each and every person, as well as our land, water. and air — no exceptions.

That’s why hundreds of Land Stewardship Project members like you have been taking action this legislative session to build a just and regenerative farm and food system, keep small- and mid-sized farmers on the land, and protect our democracy.

With just one week until bills in the Minnesota Legislature are required to have a committee hearing to stay viable, I wanted to send you an update and ask you to take action.

Addressing the Farm Crisis

Just this past weekend, about 150 LSP members and supporters, most of whom were farmers, gathered in Mankato, Minn., to urge Attorney General Keith Ellison and Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Petersen to take bold action on the farm crisis. Our priorities, which provide both immediate relief and address the root causes of the farm crisis include:

  • Increasing the immediate funds for and doubling ongoing funding for the Farm Advocates program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). This program provides free services for farmers in mediation, informs farmers of their rights when bankers come for the farm or equipment, and helps farmers in mediation with lenders. House File 4102 (Rep. Jeff Brand-DFL, St. Peter); the Senate bill will be introduced next week (Sen. Gary Dahms-R, Redwood Falls).

  • Providing a grant to Farmers' Legal Action Group (FLAG), which provides training for the MDA’s Farm Advocates and provides legal resources to farmers in financial crisis. House File 158 (Rep. Jeff Brand-DFL, St. Peter); Senate File 227 (Sen. Nick Frentz-DFL, North Mankato).

  • Providing grants to farmers in mediation to cover the cost of restructuring loans. House File 3739 (Rep. Todd Lippert-DFL, Northfield); Senate File 3580 (Sen. Mike Goggin-R, Red Wing).

  • Putting a moratorium on issuing permits for construction of massive dairies over 1,000 animal units (equivalent to about 715 adult dairy cows). Massive dairies have depressed the price of milk due to over-production, consolidated the dairy market, and caused undue harm to the health of our rural communities, water, and climate. House File 4295 (Rep. Ami Wazlawik-DFL, White Bear Township); Senate bill to be introduced this week.

  • Extending MinnesotaCare eligibility to farmers and their households who are served a mediation notice to provide direct relief from the burden of healthcare costs for people in acute financial crisis situations. House File 3689 (Rep. Todd Lippert-DFL, Northfield); Senate File 3576 (Sen. Kent Eken-DFL, Twin Valley) has strong bipartisan support.

Advancing Affordable, Accessible and High-Quality Healthcare for All

Healthcare should not be a privilege — it is a human right. In addition to providing access to MinnesotaCare for farmers in mediation, LSP’s Healthcare Organizing Committee, made up of members across the state, is actively pushing for:

  • Making MinnesotaCare available as an option for all Minnesotans so that everyone can have a healthcare plan available to them that provides meaningful care. House File 4119 (Rep. Alice Mann-DFL, Lakeville).

Protecting & Strengthening our Democracy and Communities

For decades, the Land Stewardship Project has been fighting for our democracy and public participation in decision-making. We believe our public institutions and government at all levels belong to us. These institutions must do what is best in service to people and the land. The decisions being made right now will shape the future of our state, which is why we’re working to strengthen the role of the public in all levels of government.

  • Reinstating the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens' Board. Creating government structures that are transparent and allow for meaningful citizen participation is important to creating a Minnesota that works for the people. House File 973 (Rep. John Persell-DFL, Bemidji); Senate File 627 (Sen. John Marty-DFL, Roseville).

  • Protecting Environmental Review. Factory farms depress the price of products due to over-production and consolidated markets, as well as cause undue harm to the health of our rural communities, water, and climate. It’s imperative that the environmental review process of factory farms is democratic, accessible, and thorough.

  • Keeping local control strong. Rural communities are stronger when municipalities, like townships and counties, have the power to shape their landscape. Local control has been a crucial tool for stopping massive factory farm proposals in rural communities across Minnesota.

Please take just two minutes to urgent action on the farm crisis. Hearing from constituents matters. When we come together to make our voices heard, what is politically possible grows.

Take action now!

LSP Policy Program organizer Amanda Koehler can be reached at 612-722-6377 or via e-mail.