14 Days Left in the Legislative Session: Make Your Voice Heard

Our state of Minnesota has the power and responsibility to create a transformational, regenerative food and farm system that is good for family farmers, rural communities, and the land. But so far this state legislative session, we have not seen our leaders take the bold action we need to advance our vision for rural Minnesota.

In the final days of the session, we need you to take action now. We need to advance the Farm to School initiative and provide support for farm crisis resources, and we need to stop a policy proposal that would be detrimental for rural communities, family farmers, and the land. Continue reading for more details.

Click here to take action.

Our state government had the opportunity this year to craft an agricultural budget that boldly invested in the programs the countryside needs the most. With many farmers in crisis, we could have invested in tools to help farmers stay on the land, create more market opportunities for farmers by supporting local food systems, and develop new crops and conservation methods that build a more prosperous and resilient farm system. Instead, the House ag finance bill makes incremental steps forward and the Senate version of the bill takes large steps backwards.

This week, our Representatives and Senators are meeting to negotiate a final ag finance bill and they need to hear from us today.

We need to lift our voice to make sure the final bill is strong. Click here to contact your legislators and Governor Tim Walz.

Here are the steps forward we need our state leaders to advance:

• Farm to School:

The House bill includes a domestic marketing staff position that would prioritize Farm to School network facilitation. It would also provide additional money and encouragement for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to pilot a program to reimburse schools for their purchases of local foods.

• Tools for Helping Farmers in Crisis: Both the House and Senate include a small increase in funding for the Department of Agriculture's Farm Advocates Program, but the Senate's increase is only temporary. The House bill includes a small grant to Farmers' Legal Action Group for helping farmers in crisis.

Here's the big step backward we need to stop:
• The Senate bill includes a provision that adds new language to statute to inappropriately broaden the definition of "pasture" in a way that would allow certain feedlots to avoid environmental standards. "Pasture" is currently carefully defined and is appropriately exempted from feedlot regulation by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. However, because of this proposed Senate provision, land that should be considered a feedlot would not be accountable to state laws that protect land, water, and rural communities.

For information on each of these provisions, read our recent blog: MN Legislature: 2019 Session Heads into the Home Stretch.

A conference committee of Representatives and Senators has already started negotiating the final agriculture finance bill. We expect that will be done by this Friday, May 10.

We do not have a lot of time left — we need you to take action today.

Click here to take action!

How can you engage in the final weeks of the legislative session? Take our survey here.