Today Governor Dayton traveled to Redwood, MN to speak in a forum at Minnesota’s annual Farmfest. To recognize the contributions to our state and their community, Governor Dayton has proclaimed August 7, 2014 Farm Family Recognition Day in honor of the 66,000 family-owned and operated farms across the state.
Family farms make up the backbone of Minnesota’s economy. From raising livestock to maintaining crops, Minnesota relies on farm family communities to build and sustain Minnesota agriculture and economy. Farm Families of Minnesota generate over 3 billion dollars in exports and are in strong support of renewable energy efforts.
“Minnesota is the fifth largest producer of agricultural products in the nation,” said Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “Agriculture generates an estimated $90 billion in economic activity in this state.”
Farmfest is an annual agricultural fair that celebrates these accomplishments. With a packed schedule, this gathering offers livestock handling, panel discussions, crafts, seminars and entertainment. Each year the University of Minnesota presents the Farm Family of the Year Award which recognizes 70 Minnesota farm families who have contributed to our state's’ agricultural economy and their communities.
It is important to acknowledge Minnesota Farm families not only for their fundamental role in Minnesota agricultural economy, but also as community members that make Minnesota a better place. Governor Mark Dayton fully supports and promotes local farming here in Minnesota. Since taking office in 2011, Governor Dayton and the Department of Agriculture have implemented the following initiatives:
Irrigation System at a farm in Rosholt, Minnesota
‘Unsession’ initiative streamlines permitting and payment process for Minnesotans
A newly designed web-based system that simplifies the steps to getting water permits and paying for them online is being rolled out by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The new MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS) is part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s initiative to streamline state government services.
The new application at www.mndnr.gov/mpars will save an anticipated $255,000 annually and allows DNR employees to devote more time to technical assistance and field work.
“DNR employees will have 5,000 more hours every year to protect and improve our environment, thanks to this ‘Unsession’ reform,” Dayton said. “I thank Commissioner Tom Landwehr and his staff for making these commonsense changes that will dramatically reduce the time to process more than 10,000 water permit applications each year.”
The old paper application process was time consuming and inefficient with department staff spending hours hand-sorting applications and on manual data entry.
“We’ve tried to make it as easy and as pain-free as possible for water users while giving us a way to more precisely manage and conserve a precious natural resource,” said Landwehr. “We’ll be able to better track our water use, identify permit violations and increase compliance.”
The department processes more than 10,000 permit applications and transactions each year, including reports on annual water use. Cities, farmers, businesses and landowners that use 1 million gallons of water each year, or more than 10,000 gallons a day, or work in public waters are required to get a water use permit or permit to work in public waters.
Applicants now have access to maps and can track the progress of their applications online. They are also automatically alerted if they don’t need a DNR water permit.
Photo credit: Flickr user ndboy
Bees are receiving their share of the spotlight during this year’s legislative session. Governor Dayton’s bonding proposal recommends investing $12 million in the University of Minnesota Bee research laboratory, which will foster the expansion of agriculture research and help revitalize Minnesota’s bee population.
The work of pollinators is vital to the health of numerous fruits, vegetables, and crops worldwide, accounting for one in every three bites of food. These busy insects improve the vitality of nearly half of Minnesota’s entire crop production, which translates to thousands of jobs. Overall, Minnesota’s farm and foods sectors generate $74 billion in annual economic activity for our state – helping to sustain communities across the state. The declining population is a growing concern, and Governor Dayton’s recommendation is a promising investment for thousands of Minnesota farmers.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
We are governors from neighboring states and different political parties. We don't agree on everything, but we stand united in our belief that our nation needs a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and together in our opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to weaken the RFS.
Since Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 by huge bipartisan margins, it has provided the secure policy foundation that rural America needs to continue investments in renewable fuels. Those investments yield excellent returns. They diversify our nation's energy portfolio, clean the air, grow opportunities for businesses, create good paying jobs in rural America, add value to farm products, and give consumers lower-cost choices at the pump.
Big Oil dislikes renewable fuels, and has used its clout in Washington D.C. and at state capitals to thwart their progress. When Minnesota became the first state to require all gasoline sold to contain at least 10 percent ethanol (E10), Big Oil predicted fearsome disasters. They warned that ethanol would clog cars' carburetors and explode their engines, disrupt supply lines causing gasoline shortages, and increase the price at the pump for consumers. None of that happened.
The petroleum industry also claimed that the RFS causes higher fuel prices. In fact, the opposite has proven true. On February 4, 2014, regular gasoline in Cresco, Iowa, a town about 15 minutes from the Iowa-Minnesota border, was selling for $3.44 per gallon. E10 was selling at $3.13 per gallon. E85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol, was selling for $2.60 per gallon at the same station - 84 cents per gallon cheaper than regular gasoline.
A recent study at Iowa State University found that, "Feasible increases in the ethanol mandate in 2014 will cause a small decline in the price of E10. Our results should reassure those in Congress and the Administration who are worried that following the RFS commitment to expanding the use of renewable fuels will result in sharply higher fuel prices for consumers."
The Environmental Protection Agency previously estimated that by 2022, renewable fuels would replace 13.6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel consumption and save motorists nearly $12 billion each year. The EPA also predicted that this displacement of gasoline and diesel would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 138 million metric tons, equivalent to removing 27 million vehicles from our nation's highways. Ethanol can increase competition and save consumers money, provide real choice at the pump, and drive innovations and efficiencies that are good for the economy.
The Governor was joined by Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President John Zimmerman, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota for the occasion. The event marks a time-honored tradition, going back more than two decades, of Minnesota’s Governor kicking off Thanksgiving week in Minnesota.
At the event, Zimmerman announced the donation of approximately 10,000 pounds of turkey to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, which will be distributed to food shelves and food banks across the state. That amount of turkey will feed over 12,500 people.
This morning Governor Dayton kicked off Thanksgiving Week with the help of a feathered friend. The Governor was joined by a Minnesota-raised turkey, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President John Zimmerman, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota for the occasion.
The Minnesota-raised turkey that took part in today’s festivities comes from a distinguished family – President Obama is pardoning his brother later this week. The turkeys were raised in Badger, Minnesota by John Burkel, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and his family.
Minnesota has more independent turkey farmers than any other state with roughly 600 farms. Many of these farmers are fourth and fifth generation turkey farmers – highlighting the long-standing tradition Minnesota has in turkey farming.
Governor Mark Dayton at Farmfest 2013
When I was growing up, I heard a story about how the legendary University of Minnesota football coach, Bernie Bierman, recruited big, strong players for his national championship teams. Reportedly, he drove through Minnesota farm country in the springtime. When he saw a young man walking behind a plow, he stopped and asked for directions to a nearby town. If the young man pointed with his finger, the coach drove on. If, however, the farm boy lifted the plow to point the direction, Bernie recruited him to play football at the U!
Whether or not that story is true, it tells the truth about the strength and spirit of Minnesota farmers. Today’s agriculture requires not only physical strength but also many other skills, to manage complex businesses, overcome all kinds of obstacles, and survive serious setbacks.
Cows are a key component of Minnesota's $15 billion dollar agricultural production industry. Photo credit: Flickr user Jannes Pockele
Minnesota ranks fifth in agricultural production in the United States. The $15 billion dollar industry is vital to Minnesota’s economy. Agriculture also is a major area of international trade for Minnesota. In fact, our state exported $5.2 billion worth of agricultural commodities in 2011!
Governor Mark Dayton recognizes that our agriculture industry is critically important to growing Minnesota’s economy. To better support farmers, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is providing $1 million to fund livestock production improvements.
The grants will make a big difference for livestock producers seeking to make farm improvements. These enhancements will help our farmers remain competitive and increase their production. Since the initiative began five years ago, it already has helped 179 Minnesota farmers make $55 million dollars in upgrades and improvements to their farms.
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton is continuing his efforts to build a Better Minnesota. The Dayton Administration is taking note of what has been accomplished so far while still considering the work that is yet to be done.
One important component of building a Better Minnesota is supporting a clean and healthy environment. Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes and a state where people care about the health and integrity of our natural resources. A healthy environment is central to the quality of life that all Minnesotans enjoy, and a crucial component in the success of our economy. Governor Dayton is committed to protecting and improving our natural resources, and leaving a legacy of clean water, cleaner air, and better parks and trails for future generations of Minnesotans.
For years, the Minnesota River has been considered one of the most polluted rivers in the state. But collaborative efforts across agencies have made important progress toward improving the health of the river.
Recent testing from the Pollution Control Agency showed marked improvements in dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll levels. That means conditions have improved to support the health of fish and aquatic species populations in the river.
More work must be done to reduce sediment, bacteria, nutrients, and other contaminants in the river. But the work of over 40 wastewater treatment plants and other clean up efforts have put the Minnesota River on the path to recovery.