Governor Dayton to Deliver Keynote Address at Farmfest
August 08, 2013
2013 Legislative Session Delivers Results for Minnesota Farmers
ST. PAUL, MN – Today, Governor Mark Dayton will speak to Minnesota farmers at the state’s annual Farmfest celebration in Morgan, Minnesota. The Governor’s remarks come on the heels of new investments made in Minnesota’s agricultural economy this session that support agricultural research and development, provide assistance for entrepreneur farmers, and give farmers more options to help improve water quality in the state’s lakes, rivers, and groundwater.
Farmfest is one of the largest agricultural trade shows in the country, drawing more than 35,000 attendees annually. The three-day event features field demonstrations of latest farm technology and forums discussing educational and political topics relevant to the modern farmer.
Investing in Minnesota Farmers
Agriculture is one of Minnesota’s most important economic sectors, generating $75 billion in economic output and supporting over 340,000 Minnesotans every year. The budget signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton this year provided significant new support for Minnesota’s agricultural economy that will build on that success and help Minnesota farmers compete in today’s global economy.
New Funding for Agricultural Research, Development, and Innovation – A top priority for Governor Dayton and Minnesota farmers was securing additional investments in the Agriculture Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Fund. The budget signed into law this year invests an additional $18.5 million in the fund, which is dedicated to keeping Minnesota farm production on the leading edge in an ever-changing world. These new investments will:
Help farmers develop better methods of production;
support research and development for the next generation of biofuels;
Help schools to purchase more high-quality food from local farmers;
Expand livestock grant options for Minnesota farmers who are beginning, transitioning, or expanding a family farm livestock operation; and
Help first-time farmers learn skills, lease land, and enter the tradition of farming in Minnesota.
Partnering with Farmers to Improve Water Quality – This year, Governor Dayton enacted a new law that establishes a first-in-the-nation voluntary Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program. The new initiative will partner with farmers to improve our state’s water resources. It is designed to accelerate adoption of on-farm conservation practices that protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Producers who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified, and in turn assured that their operation meets the state’s water quality goals and standards for a period of 10 years. Certified producers will not be subject to new water quality regulations during the period of certification. More information about the program is available on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website.
Training Future Farmers – This year, Governor Dayton extended the Minnesota Agriculture Education Leadership Council until 2016, which provides grants for high school agriculture programs and scholarship for college students enrolled in agriculture programs. This educational initiative will help Minnesota maintain its skilled agricultural workforce.
Supporting Biofuels – Another way the new budget supports Minnesota farmers is by expanding the state’s gasoline blend standards to include other forms of biofuels. This change was implemented on the consensus recommendation of biofuels producers and other stakeholders. Biofuels serve a number of useful purposes: decreasing our dependence on imported energy, protecting our environment, and growing Minnesota’s economy. This change will help spark the development of other biofuels and create a new market for crops grown by Minnesota farmers.
Extending Farmer-Lender Mediation – To protect farmers from unnecessary foreclosures or financial hardship, the Governor supported successful efforts to extend the Farmer-Lender Mediation program to 2016. This initiative requires lenders work with farmer to find payment solutions rather than simply resorting to repossession and foreclosures.
These bipartisan investments and improvements in Minnesota’s farm policies will help our state’s farmers compete successfully in today’s global economy, while allowing our agricultural communities to thrive in the future. For additional information on these initiatives, contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.