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. During each legislative session and throughout the year, AgriGrowth actively represents the interests of our members with the Minnesota Legislature, Governor’s office, and state agency officials.
AgriGrowth’s state public policy priorities are generated from AgriGrowth member interests and concerns identified through meeting with members, regional meetings, an annual member survey, and a public policy advisory committee. AgriGrowth’s public policy priority list does not reflect the entire scope of state public policy issues AgriGrowth engages in throughout the year, rather it highlights key areas of interest to our organization.
If Minnesota is to maintain its position as a premier agriculture and food production state, we must confront, challenge, and develop solutions to the following issues so that rural communities remain strong:
• Broadband accessibility
• Childcare availability
• Healthcare affordability and availability
• Housing availability
• Workforce development and labor availability
While not exclusive to Greater Minnesota, these are the issues that most affect rural communities. AgriGrowth supports legislative and agency efforts to increase access and lower healthcare costs, as well as government efforts to increase the number of childcare providers, such as reducing burdensome regulations on providers or introducing meaningful incentives to move the needle toward lower-cost childcare.
Broadband internet connectivity is critical to rural revitalization and competitiveness especially as we respond and rebuild after COVID–19. Connectivity is critical to engaging and participating in the global economy. We support legislation to close the digital divide in Minnesota and ensure that we meet speed and service requirements of farmers, businesses and communities across the state as basic fundamental infrastructure.
During the 2020 special session, Minnesota lawmakers fully conformed Section 179 with federal tax law changes contained in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017. Full conformity to Section 179 provides much needed tax relief, keeps our industries competitive with neighboring states, and improves tax filing efficiency. AgriGrowth supported full tax conformity with Section 179 and looks forward to working with lawmakers in 2021 to ensure a favorable tax climate for agri-food.
Minnesota’s agribusinesses and farmers contribute 25 percent of the state’s gross domestic product yet benefit from only 0.4 percent of the states almost $50 billion biennial budget. AgriGrowth supports maintaining or an increase in agriculture appropriations during the 2021 session to ensure farmers and agribusiness remain successful and viable. This includes funding for activities related to agriculture research and value-added opportunities.
AgriGrowth supports a bonding bill that includes projects that will benefit all Minnesotans. This includes funding for rural road and bridge projects, port development assistance, rural water treatment facilities, the Rural Finance Authority, statewide flood hazard mitigation, affordable rural housing, and other critical infrastructure projects.
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. Addressing water quality issues is best achieved when farmers are engaged by government agencies, including soil and water conservation districts and watershed districts, and when agencies work proactively with farmers. AgriGrowth also supports innovative, collaborative, incentive-based partnerships to enhance water quality and sustainability and create new revenue sources for farmers and agri-businesses. It is imperative measurements, metrics, and proposed solutions are based on sound science.
The Legacy Amendment passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 created the Clean Water Fund. AgriGrowth supports increasing these dedicated funds toward local, farmer-engaged efforts that will help accelerate the development and adoption of nutrient management plans and conservation practices.
Minnesota farmers need access to science-based technology and tools that enhance productivity, protect our natural resources and support sound animal care practices.
AgriGrowth opposes state legislation or agency actions banning or restricting use of federally-approved crop protection or animal care products. AgriGrowth supports federal and state laws superseding a patchwork of local laws and ordinances that restrict certain seed technology or agricultural inputs.
Minnesota’s climate and weather have shaped our state’s agricultural production practices and transportation for centuries. Farmers and agribusiness continuously innovate and improve practices to enhance production system sustainability and resiliency resulting in generations of improved practices. 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 provide an opportunity for Minnesota’s farmers and agribusinesses to adopt best management practices that reduce emissions, sequester atmospheric carbon, and improve profitability. AgriGrowth supports science-based policy that incentivizes reduced emissions by farmers, agribusiness, and consumers and rewards steps taken to ameliorate short and long-term impacts of climate change.
AgriGrowth believes Minnesota’s environmental permitting process should ensure that agribusinesses and farmers remain competitive nationally and globally. A burdensome and lengthy permitting process may direct investments to other states, further restricting Minnesota farmers’ ability to grow during challenging economic times.
AgriGrowth supports state agency efforts that increase certainty in permitting timelines and reduce costs to agribusiness and farmers, which deter new investments and job creation. AgriGrowth also supports environmental agencies that operate within the authority granted by the legislature, and opposes unilateral action, rules, or actions not prescribed in state law.
Minnesota’s agri-food sector has long experienced a labor shortage. With an economy near full-employment, farmers compete against other states and industries for part-time, full-time, and seasonal employees.
AgriGrowth supports promoting vocational and technical education for high school students. This includes initiatives that promote public-private partnerships that collaborate with higher education institutions and community colleges. This will better prepare students for careers in food production and agriculture such as farm business management, food science, management information systems, and ag processing and manufacturing.
Minnesota farmers and food producers rely on an extensive multi-modal transportation system to bring products to markets. While the metro area experiences traffic congestion and challenges that Greater Minnesota does not, rural areas grow food, fiber and fuel that must be transported long distances to sustain a growing population. In any discussion of new gas taxes, AgriGrowth urges that resulting revenue be dedicated equitably across the state and that any proposal include additional funding sources.