The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) brought 16 grower leaders to the Minnesota State Capitol for its annual Day on the Hill last week. The group met with Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and more than 25 legislators, including key legislative leadership and chairs of committees that are important for MCGA policy priorities.
In each meeting, growers stressed the importance of enacting federal tax conformity through Section 179, and property tax relief for farmers by increasing the Ag 2 School Credit. Both would provide tax relief for farmers, improve business competitiveness, enhance job growth and foster economic growth.
State conformity on Section 179 is included in Governor Walz’s proposed budget, and House and Senate Tax Committees have laid over bills for possible inclusion in an omnibus tax bill for state conformity on Section 179.
Buffer property tax relief was also a point of emphasis for grower leaders. The need to eliminate the financial penalty of continuing to impose property taxes at the highest rates on farm land that is converted to conservation buffers is a top legislative priority in 2019.
The proposed budget from Governor Tim Walz included $15 million for a $50-per-acre buffer property tax credit. HF 1430 (Torkelson)/SF 1937 (Dahms) proposes to reduce property taxes on acres in compliance with buffer law to zero, and the state would reimburse local taxing jurisdictions for lost revenue. MCGA supports both proposals and is working to secure a buffer property tax credit that would be simple to administer and deliver the most amount of property tax relief for farmers.
To spur ag innovation in our state, growers also asked for increased funding for the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transportation Program (AGREETT). The program to date has been a tremendous success, and increased funding would bolster efforts at the University of Minnesota to discover new and viable practices that achieve long-term sustainability in agriculture. If additional funding cannot be secured for AGREETT this year, the baseline appropriation of $9.3 million per year for the program should remain intact.
While MCGA leaders met with legislators, the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee heard SF 1840, a bill authored by Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) that proposes to increase AGREETT funding by $5.7 million each fiscal year. MCGA President Brian Thalmann was able to offer testimony in support of the bill. You can hear committee audio here (AGREETT bill starts at 41:10). In addition to the committee testimony, 11 agricultural groups, including MCGA, submitted a letter of support to the committee on SF 1840.
Finally, MCGA leaders discussed the need for increased road and bridge funding in Greater Minnesota so farmers and rural businesses have access to markets and products.
MCGA appreciates the time that legislative leaders, key committee chairs and individual legislators took to meet with MCGA and discuss important policy priorities for Minnesota’s corn farmers.