This week's ag update from the Minnesota state capitol

Anna Boroff

Anna Boroff, MCGA Public Policy Director.

Written by Anna Boroff, MCGA Public Policy Director

Gov. Dayton’s proposed pay raises for his commissioners gobbled up most of the media coverage this week at the Minnesota state capitol (never change, Minnesota politics!). But there were still plenty of ag-related happenings, including a legislative water commission meeting, an agricultural sector meeting with the DNR and legislative visits involving Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) farmer-leaders.

Here is this week’s legislative recap:

  • MCGA Executive Director Adam Birr attended Monday evening’s legislative water commission meeting where Gov. Dayton’s buffer strip proposal was discussed with DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr. We still haven’t seen any official legislation regarding the proposal. MCGA will continue to monitor this issue and comment on behalf of members as needed.
  • Buffer strips were again the topic on Wednesday in St. Paul when the DNR held an agricultural sector meeting. MCGA had two farmer-leaders participate in this meeting. But again, until there is an official proposal or legislation on buffer strips, there isn’t much to comment on or new information to provide. I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ll repeat the same line I’ve repeated many times on this issue: We will continue monitoring the buffer strip issue and comment when necessary.
  • Also on Wednesday, grower-leaders met individually with eight legislators to discuss MCGA legislative priorities like property tax reform, transportation funding and regulations. A big thank you to Sen. Rod Skoe (Senate tax chair), Rep. Denny McNamara (House environmental chair), Rep. Rod Hamilton (House ag finance chair), Rep. Steve Drazkowski (House property tax chair), Sen. Dan Sparks (Senate ag chair), Sen. David Tomassoni (Senate environment/ag chair), House speaker Kurt Daudt and Rep. Paul Anderson (House ag policy chair) for meeting with us. We also connected with several other legislators later on Wednesday evening at a separate event.
  • Legislation coming up next week includes the Bioeconomy bill in both the House and Senate ag policy committees. This bill would help establish an advanced biofuel and renewable chemicals industry in Minnesota. Also next week, the agricultural operations nuisance lawsuit  reform bill will be discussed in the Senate ag committee.
  • On the federal side, MCGA President and Northfield farmer Bruce Peterson is attending a roundtable discussion with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on trade and exports.
  • The House just passed the Senate’s Keystone XL pipeline legislation, and it will now be sent to President Obama, who said he’ll veto it.
  • Also on the federal side, crop insurance has come under attack again. Going back to the days of ad hoc disaster bills won’t be good for both farmers and non-farmers, so it’s important that we continue speaking out for a strong crop insurance program.
  • Finally, Congressman Tom Emmer spoke at MN Ag EXPO 2015 a couple weeks ago. He also sat down for an interview with Al Travis from “Between the Lines” Minnesota. Below is video of Rep. Emmer’s interview, and bonus footage with MCGA President Bruce Peterson and National Corn Growers CEO Chris Novak.

Written by Anna Boroff, Public Policy Director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), who has been at the Minnesota state capitol throughout the current legislative session.

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