Congresswoman Fischbach Joins AgriGrowth Board for Discussion on Federal Policy Priorities
On May 6, more than a dozen AgriGrowth directors and staff met virtually with Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) and her staff to discuss priorities for agriculture and food. It was a robust and positive discussion that covered infrastructure, broadband, immigration, attracting and retaining top talent, health care, childcare, trade, conservation and more.
AgriGrowth Directors emphasized the following priorities: expanded trade and market access, investing in infrastructure, improving and expanding broadband access, ensuring an adequate workforce through comprehensive immigration reform (or at a minimum, visa reform), and avoiding or challenging attempts towards regulatory overreach. Directors also expressed concerns regarding federal and state approaches to climate change solutions and emphasized the positive role agri-food plays in moving us towards solutions to this challenge as well as the need to base any future requirements on sound science.
The meeting was critical for AgriGrowth to connect with Congresswoman Fischbach as she serves on the Committee on Agriculture, as well as several subcommittees including the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit of which she is the ranking member. We are thankful to be able to convene conversations between our elected officials and members, and appreciate that Congresswoman Fischbach made time to join us!
As always, if you have a federal policy issue that AgriGrowth can help with, please reach out to Patrick Murray at (651) 238-0089 or email@example.com.
An Update from the Minnesota State Capitol
The clock is quickly ticking toward the end of the regular 2021 legislative session, and House DFL leadership, Senate GOP leadership, and Governor Tim Walz have not announced an agreement on the budget or even agreed-to budget targets for conference committees debating the finance and policy omnibus bills. Legislative leadership originally set a deadline of last Friday to announce budget targets, but quickly blew past that self-imposed deadline with no agreement.
The Legislature is required to adjourn on May 17, and if no agreement is made by that date, they will have to call a special session to pass a budget. Because they are constitutionally-mandated to pass a two-year biennial budget in odd year sessions, if no agreement is complete by July 1 - the start of a new fiscal year - state government could go into a full or partial shutdown. It is also worth noting that legislators are already expecting to come back for a special session next month when they will be asked to renew Governor Walz's emergency powers, which may be impacting drawn out negotiations. The House and Senate also appear to still be far apart of a number of key issues including taxes and police reform.
AgriGrowth will continue to monitor the situation at the Capitol and advocate for our members' shared priorities throughout final budget negotiations and conference committees. You can learn more about our state policy priorities here, and if you have any questions on specific bills or things happening at the Legislature, please contact Patrick Murray at(651) 238-0089 firstname.lastname@example.org.
AgriGrowth Testifies Before Conference Committee on Meat and Poultry Worker Legislation
Last week, AgriGrowth Director of Government & Member Relations Patrick Murray testified in opposition to the provisions of House File 800 that were before the Labor & Industry Conference Committee. AgriGrowth stated that we believe the legislation is not only unnecessary, but also would result in significant regulatory overreach towards an industry sector already heavily regulated by more than a half dozen state and federal agencies.
Known as the “Minnesota Safe Workplaces for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers Act," the stated intent of the legislation is to protect meat and poultry processing plant workers in addition to providing paid leave to all meat and poultry processing workers to recuperate from an illness, injury or to care for an ill family member. The proposed legislation would also create a “ Workers’ Rights Coordinator'' position housed within the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) dedicated to enforcement and compliance. The legislation also contains numerous requirements (provision of PPE, adequate break time, routine cleaning, posting worker rights in multiple languages, etc.) that are already being provided by meat and poultry processing firms.
AgriGrowth’s testimony emphasized our members’ words and actions throughout the pandemic clearly demonstrated their number one priority was for the safety, health, and wellbeing of their employees. Not only did pre-pandemic food and worker safety measures often included masks, face shields, goggles, gloves, and protective clothing, but AgriGrowth members quickly expanded or adjusted such measures based on state and federal guidance.
AgriGrowth has testified multiple times against this onerous legislation during the 2021 legislative session. Conferees in both the Senate and House will decide if this proposal is included in the final conference report.