AgriGrowth and State Advocacy

We serve as conveners, advocates, and thought leaders by creating common ground solutions that move the food and agriculture industry forward.

State Public Policy Priorities 2020

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.

Taxes

During the 2019 legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers partially conformed Section 179 with federal tax law changes that were contained in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017. Due to the lack of full conformity, issues have arisen that are causing a negative impact for farmers and agribusiness. Full conformity to Section 179 would provide much needed tax relief, keep our industries competitive with neighboring states, and provide for ease of tax filings. AgriGrowth supports full tax conformity with Section 179.

Supplemental Budget

AgriGrowth supports an increase in agriculture appropriations in any supplemental budget considered during the 2020 session that would ensure our member farmers and agribusiness remain successful and viable into the future. This includes funding for activities related to agriculture research, value-added agricultural opportunities and African swine fever (ASF) preparedness. 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.

Bonding

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.

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 that agencies work together proactively with farmers. AgriGrowth also supports collaboration with groups by utilizing sound science to ensure we keep our shared waters clean, as well as contribute to increased agricultural productivity.

The Legacy Amendment that was 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.

Access to Technology That Sustains Productivity

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 that ban or impose unreasonable restrictions on the use of federally-approved crop protection or animal care products. Furthermore, AgriGrowth supports federal and state laws superseding any patchwork of local laws and ordinances which restrict the use of certain seed technology or agricultural input products.

Climate Adaptation

Minnesota’s climate and weather have shaped our state’s agriculture for centuries, including production practices, modes of transportation and distribution routes. Farmers and agribusinesses 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 and even improve their finances. AgriGrowth supports science-based policy efforts 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.

Environmental and Regulatory Reform

AgriGrowth believes Minnesota’s environmental permitting process should ensure that our state’s agribusiness and farmers remain competitive both nationally and globally. A burdensome and lengthy permitting process may direct investments to other states, further restricting Minnesota farmers’ ability to grow during challenging times in the agricultural economy.

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.

Workforce Development and Labor Availability

Minnesota’s food and agriculture sectors have long experienced a labor shortage. With an economy near full-employment, farmers are competing against other states and industries for part-time, full-time and seasonal employees.

AgriGrowth supports efforts to promote vocational and technical educational opportunities for high school students. This includes initiatives that promote public-private partnerships that collaborate with higher education institutions and community colleges. These efforts will ensure students are better prepared for careers in food production and agriculture such as farm business management, food science technology, management information systems, agriculture processing and agriculture manufacturing.

Transportation

Minnesota farmers and food producers rely on an extensive multi-modal transportation system to enable products to reach markets. In any discussion of new gas taxes, AgriGrowth believes this revenue should be dedicated equitably across the state and that any proposal should include additional funding sources. While the metro area experiences traffic congestion and challenges that Greater Minnesota does not, rural areas grow the food, fuel and fiber that need to be transported across long distances in order to sustain a growing worldwide population.

Other Challenges to Our Rural Communities

While not exclusive to Greater Minnesota, childcare, health care affordability and availability, housing and broadband are issues that most affect our state’s rural communities. If Minnesota is to maintain its position as a premier agriculture and food production state, we must confront challenges and develop solutions to these issues so rural communities remain strong.

AgriGrowth supports legislative and agency efforts to increase access and lower health care 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.

To learn more about AgriGrowth’s public policy work, please contact our Director of Government and Member Relations, Patrick Murray at 651-238-0089; pmurray@agrigrowth.org.

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