We serve as conveners, advocates, and thought leaders 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.