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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Rod Hamilton (R)

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Monday, May 4, 2015

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved legislation that will fund agriculture and rural development programs over the next two years. State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), who chairs the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee, said the bill is positive for Greater Minnesota. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 110-18.


"The top priority of the ag finance bill is to protect and preserve our food supply," Hamilton said. "Investments in ag education, research, and the biobased industrial products industry will also greatly benefit the State of Minnesota now and in the future."


Along with appropriations for the Department of Agriculture, the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute, and the Board of Animal Health, the $108 million that is appropriated in Hamilton's proposal would address food safety and help rural Minnesotans and farmers in a number of ways, including measures that would:

  • Provide funds to all involved state agencies in order to better prevent and respond to the avian influenza outbreak that has devastated Minnesota turkey flocks
  • Strengthen production ag research to improve yields and strengthen crops
  • Pay unpaid claims due to wolf depredation
  • Commission a livestock industry study to identify causes of growth or decline of poultry and livestock production in the Upper Midwest over the last ten years
  • Increase grants to Second Harvest Heartland so more milk can be purchased for food banks
  • Streamline food safety regulations between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Health
  • Improve the farm-to-foodshelf program by making it permanent in the out years, allowing farmers to move product that they otherwise have no market for to food banks, and recovering part of their cost of production

Hamilton said the legislation also includes a provision that would create three production-based bioenergy grant programs administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) relating to advanced biofuel production, renewable chemical production, and biomass production.


"The University of Minnesota Extension Service released a report stating that potential new biobased industrial products facilities in Minnesota have the potential to eventually contribute an estimated $837.6 million in economic activity to the state’s economy," Hamilton said. "This is a program that over time could create thousands of jobs and pay dividends to our state for decades to come."