AgriGrowth and Federal Advocacy

We serve as a convener, advocate and thought leader by creating common ground solutions that move the food and agriculture industry forward.

Federal Public Policy Priorities 2021

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.  

AgriGrowth’s federal policy priorities are developed from member interests and concerns identified through  member discussions, regional meetings, the annual public policy survey, and our public policy committee. AgriGrowth’s priority list does not include the full range of federal public policy issues that AgriGrowth engages in  through the year; rather, it highlights key areas of interest or concern to our organization. 

U.S. Trade Agreements 

Opening new markets and reducing barriers to U.S. ag and food exports are key to the long-term competitiveness  of and future growth for Minnesota (and U.S.) agriculture. For Minnesota, exports are one-third of total  agricultural sales, we are the 4th largest exporting state, and 60,000 Minnesota jobs are tied to agricultural exports.  In addition, processed foods - including meat and poultry - now account for more than fifty percent of total U.S.  food and agricultural exports. We strongly encourage the federal government to improve our trade relations and  expand export markets. 

Our 2021 trade priorities are: full implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, improving and  expanding our China trade relationship; pursuing other bilateral agreements (e.g., US-UK); and re-engaging in multilateral trade negotiations. AgriGrowth strongly urges the U.S. government to not only work aggressively to  negotiate new and improve existing trade agreements, but also to re-engage in global multilateral trade  negotiations to allow Minnesota agriculture to help feed the 95 percent of the world’s population that lives  outside of the U.S. 

Infrastructure Investments 

Minnesota’s agri-food sector relies on many types of infrastructure. We depend on transportation infrastructure  including highways, roads and bridges, rail and waterways to move products to domestic and international markets and to transport agri-food inputs. 

AgriGrowth strongly supports federal efforts to invest in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Priorities  should include modernization of the aging Mississippi River locks and dams system, our state’s freight rail network,  flood hazard mitigation projects, and the nation's highway system. 

Broadband Accessibility 

Broadband internet connectivity is critical to rural revitalization and competitiveness especially now, as we  respond and rebuild after COVID – 19. Connectivity is critical to engaging and participating in a technology based  global economy of tomorrow. We support legislation to close the digital divide in Minnesota and ensure that we  are meeting the speeds and service requirements of farmers, business and communities across the state as basic  fundamental infrastructure. 

Climate Adaptation 

For centuries, Minnesota’s climate and weather have shaped our state’s agricultural production practices, modes of  transportation and distribution routes. Farmers and agribusiness are continuously innovating and improving their practices to improve the sustainability and resiliency of their production systems, contributing to generations of  improved practices and methods. Today’s attention to the impact of human activity on the global climate and related  food supply issues highlights the need to acknowledge how agriculture can positively address climate change.  

Efforts to mitigate climate change impacts on the food and agriculture system provide an opportunity for  Minnesota’s farmers and agribusiness to adopt new technology and best management practices that reduce  emissions, sequester atmospheric carbon, improve soil health, and even strengthen their finances. AgriGrowth  supports science-based policies that incentivize farmers, agribusiness, and consumers to reduce their emissions,  and reward them for steps taken to ameliorate the short and long-term impacts of climate change. We also  encourage USDA and Congress to use creative programs to incentivize agricultural practices that can positively  address climate change, such as establishing frameworks and certainty for successful ecosystem markets. 

Immigration Reform 

Comprehensive immigration reform is a phrase used by policymakers that often has vastly different meanings for different people. AgriGrowth encourages the Minnesota congressional delegation and the Administration to  support immigration policies that help address the critical workforce needs of Minnesota farmers and food  producers, while also recognizing the positive contributions that these individuals make to their communities.  Without a significant increase in net migration into Minnesota, the state’s labor force will grow slower than it has  in the past, meanings farmers and businesses will have an increasingly difficult time finding the hard-working,  skilled employees needed to create and maintain a robust agricultural economy.  

The existing H-2A visa program for seasonal agriculture workers does not meet the needs of Minnesota’s  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 to workers and employers alike. Agricultural wages are often higher than the federal minimum,  yet farmers face uncertainty due to the barriers, delays, and regulations in the current program. 

Health Care 

The lack of access to affordable health insurance is a top issue among farmers and agribusiness nationwide. Access  to affordable health care is also a critical component to sustaining and growing the rural communities that are  essential to maintaining the competitiveness of our domestic agri-food system. AgriGrowth encourages the  Administration and Congress to take into consideration the interests and concerns of U.S. farmers and agribusiness in any discussion of health care policy.  

Regulatory Reform 

Minnesota’s agri-food sector is committed to adopting best practices and innovative technology to help protect  our state’s natural resources and ensure a sustainable and safe food supply. A proliferation of new federal rules or  requirements creates uncertainty and adds costs to farms, agribusiness, and food companies. AgriGrowth strongly  supports the definition of WOTUS under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) as finalized in 2020. 

We also support the review of hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers to provide drive-time flexibility which  is an example of sensible, science and data-driven regulatory reform. We are encouraged by the Administration’s  commitment to rules based on science and urge its applications to regulations impacting our industry. 

Water Quality 

Clean water is a shared value and vital to every community in Minnesota. Farmers understand this and are at the  forefront of researching, developing, testing, and adopting best management practices for improving water quality  throughout the state. AgriGrowth believes that addressing and solving water quality issues is best achieved when  farmers are engaged by government agencies, including soil and water conservation districts and watershed  districts, and that agencies work together proactively with farmers. AgriGrowth also supports incentive based  innovative partnerships in collaboration with groups to enhance water quality and sustainability that creates new  revenue sources for farmers and agri-businesses by utilizing sound science to ensure we keep our shared waters  clean, as well as contribute to increased agricultural productivity. 

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