AgriGrowth Policy Update 6.16.20

June 16, 2020

Lawmakers' Plate is Full as Special Session Kicks Off in St. Paul

The 2020 legislative session came to an end last month, with both the Senate and House adjourning knowing that they would be called back for a special session by Gov. Tim Walz in June. Unfinished items they had planned to address included the passage of a capital investment bonding bill and an omnibus tax bill. In addition, lawmakers still needed to determine state oversight as it relates to the funding received from the federal CARES Act. Lastly, Gov. Walz’s emergency powers related to the COVID-19 pandemic were set to expire and in order for them to be extended, the Legislature was required to be in session. With all these dynamics in play approximately one month ago, a new issue emerged that has not only captured all of Minnesota’s attention, but the entire world.

The tragic and unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day prompted lawmakers around the country to address police reform-related measures in the hopes of avoiding similar incidents in the future. Here in Minnesota, these reform measures are also now a major component to the legislative agenda during the current special session. Both the House and Senate have already held committee hearings to review and strengthen various public safety state statutes as they relate to police powers. And while there is agreement on several measures, the House has a much more aggressive reform agenda that the Senate does not fully support.

The typical negotiations between a Governor and legislative leadership during a special session is much less contentious. Lawmakers have a robust agenda to address, which the GOP-led Senate has already indicated that they will not meet past this coming Friday as they will have concluded their special session agenda. Conversely, the DFL-led House of Representatives do not plan to leave St. Paul until they pass their priorities with the added dynamic that they may not allow other priorities to move forward on bonding and taxes unless there is agreement on the police reform measures by all parties. However, Gov. Walz and the House cannot compel the Senate to support measures that they are not in favor of. Senate GOP leadership has already indicated many of these priorities should be addressed during the 2021 legislative session when they have a full-length session to debate the proposed changes in a more deliberative manner.

Due to the lack of passage during the regular legislative session, AgriGrowth continues to interface with Walz Administration officials and legislative leaders in support of full Section 179 conformity, as well as additional dollars for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. If you have any questions about the special session or AgriGrowth’s public policy priorities, please contact Patrick Murray at or (651) 238-0089.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Announces Changes in Use of Dicamba Herbicide

On June 4, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (California) ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to vacate the registration of three of the four dicamba products that had previously been approved for use on dicamba tolerant (DT) soybeans in Minnesota. This order sent shockwaves through the agricultural community leaving manufacturers and producers in very difficult positions throughout the country. It is highly unusual for a pesticide registration to be vacated immediately and even when labels are cancelled, there has traditionally been a process that USEPA follows, and it includes instructions from USEPA to states and to the industry for the cancellation to ensue.

Upon further review of state law and while awaiting guidance from USEPA regarding dicamba products, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA)announced that it will continue operating under existing pesticide program authorities. According to Minnesota law, an unregistered pesticide previously registered in the state may be used following the cancellation of the registration of the pesticide.

“The Circuit Court of Appeals decision to revoke the use of these products was, unfortunately, very untimely for our farmers as many had already purchased the herbicide for this growing season,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “Timing is critical for farmers to apply the products and our further interpretation of Minnesota law allows us to use these products.”

AgriGrowth greatly appreciates this announcement by Commissioner Petersen as Minnesota’s agricultural community awaits USEPA’s response to an emergency motion filed by several groups seeking to enforce the order. As a reminder, all dicamba pesticide applicators in Minnesota must follow use instructions on the product label including timing restrictions. In Minnesota, all four dicamba products are “Restricted Use Pesticides” for retail sale to, and for use only by, certified applicators who have complete dicamba or auxin-specific training. Please e-mail Josh Stamper at with any questions.

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