We serve as a convener, advocate and thought leader by creating common ground solutions that move the food and agriculture industry forward.
AgriGrowth’s mission is to advocate for a positive business climate for Minnesota’s food and agriculture sector. Throughout the year, AgriGrowth actively represents our members’ interests with Minnesota’s congressional delegation and federal agencies.
The 2022 federal policy priorities are based on AgriGrowth’s assessment of member interests, informed by discussions during regional meetings around Minnesota as well as other member engagement. AgriGrowth’s priorities are focused on creating common ground solutions that move the food and agriculture industry forward. The priority list does not include the entire scope of AgriGrowth’s activities throughout the year; rather, it highlights key policies, issues, and areas of concern for our members.
The Minnesota AgriGrowth Council Supports:
· Farm policy that represents and supports agriculture’s contributions and role in today’s economy
· Expanding markets via trade negotiations towards a rules-based global trading system
· Modern infrastructure that supports broad based (rural to urban) economic competitiveness
· Immediate improvements to our nation’s H-2A visa program and comprehensive immigration reform
· Regulatory reform and future regulations that are assessed and based on data and science
As policymakers craft the next Farm Bill, farm policy deliberations should include discussions and development of programs that incentivize agriculture’s role in sustaining the shared values of clean air, land, and water, and an acceptable climate. Use of sound science and relevant accurate data will be key to developing the policies necessary to sustain a healthy environment while also stabilizing our climate.
Agriculture is one of the sectors most impacted by climate change, and one of the best positioned to help meet climate mitigation goals while supporting these shared values. Farmers and firms along the agri-food chain are accustomed to collecting and measuring data throughout their production, processing, and marketing systems. Their adoption of new technologies and ability to innovate and adapt enables agri-food to be successful in a changing climate while also providing valuable social benefits.
To support agriculture’s ability to thrive while providing these shared benefits, farm programs should incentivize agricultural practices that positively address climate and environmental changes and ensure risk management tools support the changed risk profile of agriculture and agri-food. Appropriate tools or aspects of these new programs may include production and use of renewable fuels, cropping patterns to improve soil health and water storage, establishing frameworks for successful ecosystem markets, rewards for carbon sequestration, and others.
New and expanded markets for agri-food products are essential to the growth and long-term competitiveness of agriculture. Minnesota is the fourth largest exporting state with one-third of our total agricultural sales exported, supporting 60,000 Minnesota jobs. We strongly encourage the federal government to expand export markets and improve U.S. trade relations globally.
Our 2022 trade priorities are: to monitor and improve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and our China trade relationship; to re-engage in multilateral trade negotiations, to pursue other regional (CPTPP) and bilateral agreements, and to renew the President’s Trade Promotion Authority. AgriGrowth urges that the Administration negotiate new and improve existing bilateral trade agreements and re-engage in regional and multilateral trade negotiations.
Minnesota’s agri-food sector relies on many types of infrastructure from access to broadband, health care, childcare, and education (community infrastructure) to reliable and accessible energy, bridges, rail, roads, waterways, and ports (transportation infrastructure). Community infrastructure is essential to properly supporting our rural and urban employees and customers and transportation infrastructure is critical to transporting agri-food inputs and products to domestic and international markets.
AgriGrowth strongly supports federal efforts to invest in community infrastructure and involving farmers and rural stakeholders in these discussions. Our 2022 priorities include efforts to improve accessible and affordable:
· Broadband internet connectivity
· Health care
The competitiveness of our agri-food system relies heavily on modern transportation infrastructure, yet federal investment lags that of other nations. AgriGrowth believes transportation infrastructure must be a top federal priority, with the following emphasis:
· Modernization of the aging Mississippi River locks and dams system
· State and national freight rail networks
· State and national flood hazard mitigation projects
· The nation’s highway system.
Agriculture and the entire agri-food sector face acritical shortage in another essential piece of our nation’s infrastructure -our workforce. The availability of and access to the workers and talent necessary to keep our food system up and running, already constrained before the pandemic, is at a breaking point. Without immediate action by the federal government, there will not be sufficient essential agricultural and agri-food workers to keep the system running. AgriGrowth encourages the Minnesota congressional delegation and the Administration to support immigration policies that ensure the critical workforce needs of Minnesota farmers and food producers.
In addition to sorely needed comprehensive immigration reform, the existing H-2A visa program for seasonal agriculture workers does not meet the needs of agricultural employers. A new program more reflective of today’s agriculture economy is needed to give employers greater access to immigrant workers for seasonal and year-round positions. Any new program should provide greater certainty for farmers and others facing barriers, delays, and regulations of the current program.
Minnesota’s agri-food sector is committed to adopting best practices and innovative technology to protect our state’s natural resources and ensure a sustainable and safe food supply. The proliferation of new federal rules or requirements not based on science creates uncertainty and adds costs to farms, agribusiness, and food companies. We support regulatory reform and the development of new policies that are data and science based. The agri-food industry can and will play an essential role in sustaining healthy air, land, and water as well as helping to improve climate adaptation and mitigation if such policies are based on data and science.