Senate committee passes drought relief bill
ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Senate Finance Committee today unanimously approved a drought relief package.
“We greatly appreciate the Senate moving on this and hope it earns final approval this week to meet the House bill in conference committee,” said Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Gary Wertish. “We’re continuing to get calls from members who are counting on this relief and wondering when it’s coming. Swift action to provide accessible grants and loans to these livestock and specialty crop producers is sorely needed.”
The bill, Senate File (SF) 3479 is sponsored by Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee. It targets $5.5 million to support livestock farmers and $1.5 million for livestock farmers and specialty crop producers. An additional $1.5 million is appropriated to the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) for disaster recovery loans.
On March 10, the House passed House File (HF) 3420, sponsored by House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko, by a bipartisan 101-33 vote. The bill expands eligibility for the RFA Disaster Recovery Loan Program, appropriates money for rapid response grants to eligible farmers, and provides additional funding for drought-relief loans.
If the full Senate passes their legislation this week, it will move to conference committee where legislators from the House and Senate will iron out differences between both versions. Following that, the proposal will need to be again approved by the full House and Senate before going to the governor for his signature.
Minnesota Farmers Union first called for a drought relief package that includes rapid response grants in August. In September, Wertish joined Gov. Walz at an event announcing the drought aid package and in October, Wertish testified at a House hearing on the drought. MFU has continued to advocate for drought relief since the session began Jan. 31.
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.
# # #
Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org).