Minnesota Farmers Union members gather for virtual lobby day

ST. PAUL – Nearly 60 Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members spent part of their day talking to legislators and other elected officials during MFU’s virtual lobby day.

Drought relief, health insurance affordability, climate resilience, improving access to meat processing, expanding the use of renewable fuels and starting a grain indemnity fund were the top issues discussed during the daylong event.

“Thank you to everyone who joined the call. It is very powerful to connect with legislators and it helps them do their jobs too,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “A special thank you to those who shared their personal stories.

“Thank you, too, to the legislators and other elected officials who joined Minnesota Farmers Union members today,” Wertish said. “Members shared positive comments about the questions legislators asked and how they seemed genuinely interested in listening.”

With the first committee deadline coming up on March 25, several MFU priorities are advancing. The Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee passed drought relief legislation this afternoon and drought relief legislation is expected to come up for a vote on the House floor Thursday. The Senate proposal, authored by Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, includes $6.5 million for grants for livestock farmers and specialty crop producers impacted by the drought in​ 2021.

“At today’s lobby day, we heard firsthand from Minnesota Farmers Union members who were impacted by last year’s drought,” said MFU Vice President Anne Schwagerl. “While these grants won’t make producers whole, it goes a long way to help farmers struggling to keep their livestock and also specialty crop producers who need infrastructure to make their farms more resilient. We appreciate the Senate’s action on this important and timely proposal.”

Other MFU priorities, otherwise known as special orders of business, include:

  • Climate resilience
  • Local and regional processing
  • Competitive markets
  • Generational farm transition
  • Affordable health care

In addition to the priorities listed above, MFU strongly supports the following agricultural investments proposed by the Walz-Flanagan administration:

  • $8.7 million for livestock processing including to expand and start new plants, recruit and retain employees, support technical training and strengthen inspection.
  • $27 million to help farmers tackle climate change through grants to help implement voluntary soil health practices.
  • $5 million to create a Grain Indemnity Fund to protect producers in the event of fraud, elevator collapse or other events that result in nonpayment to producers.
  • Reauthorizing Cooperative Development Grants.
  • $1.5 million to help the state prepare for animal disease outbreaks.
  • $500,000 to help farmers build websites to sell products.
  • $2 million to support emerging farmers.
  • $1.5 million to help farmers markets remain resilient.
  • $500,000 to help farmers afford farm business management education.
  • $1 million to combat noxious weeds.
  • $3 million for the Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota.
  • $6.5 million for food assistance, including $1.5 million for the Good Acre’s Local Emergency Assistance Farmer Fund (LEAFF).

About Minnesota Farmers Union

Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org, and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org).