By Amanda Bilek, senior public policy director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association
Legislative activity in St. Paul picked up a little this last week, but most legislative business is being put on hold Tuesday afternoon and into part of Wednesday so elected officials can attend precinct caucuses in their districts.
One of the top legislative priorities for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is to increase Minnesota’s biofuel standard from 10 to 15 percent for all gasoline sold in the state. On Monday, HF 3699 and SF 3605 were introduced.
Chief author of the House bill is Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin) and co-authors including Rep. Anderson (R-Starbuck), Tabke (DFL-Shakopee), Davids (R-Preston), Brand (DFL-St. Peter), Torkelson (R-Hanska), Poston (R-Lake Shore), Lippert (DFL-Northfield) and Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake).
Chief author of the Senate bill is Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) and co-authors include Sen. Weber (R-Luverne) and Dahms (R-Redwood Falls).
MCGA looks forward to working with the authors and co-authors as the bill makes its way through the committee process and for consideration by each body. We aim to pick up additional supporters throughout session because we know that a higher blend of biofuel provides consumers higher octane, lower costs and reduced tailpipe emissions.
We are advocating for an increase in the standard from 10 to 15 percent because in 2019 the federal government issued a federal regulation enabling a higher blend of biofuel to be sold year-round in 2001 and newer vehicles.
Minnesota has always been a leader on biofuel policy. If Minnesota puts into law an increase in the biofuel standard, it would be the first state to do, continuing our legacy of national biofuels leadership. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me.
In my update last week, I discussed how grain bin safety was becoming a more prevalent topic for discussion in the House and Senate agriculture committees. Ag committees in the House and Senate did advance legislation aimed at assisting farmers and rural communities to improve farm safety, in particular grain bin safety.
The House and Senate agriculture committees advanced bills authored by Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL-Mankato) and Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL-St. Peter). SF 3007/HF 3224 aims to create a grant program for farm safety equipment, including for grain storage. The program is modeled after the tractor roll over protection program and would appropriate $500,000 for the farm safety cost-share programs.
SF 3086, authored by Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), was amended in committee to establish a grain storage safety grant program, including cost-share funds for air quality monitoring equipment and appropriate funds to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to work with the University of Minnesota to create a grain storage facility curriculum.
Governor Walz has also announced that his supplemental budget proposal, expected to be released next month, will include $250,000 for a farm safety cost-share grant program.
Farm safety is an important issue for MCGA, farmers and all agricultural interests across the state. The issue is receiving broad, bipartisan support to put additional resources into farm safety with the aim of preventing future accidents and tragedies.