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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Anderson (R)

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Anderson: House passes ag. bill despite concerning issues

Friday, May 10, 2024


ST. PAUL – House Democrats recently approved an omnibus bill which Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said does not do enough to support the more traditional agriculture industry and diverts fertilizer research funding elsewhere.

The Legislature last year greatly expanded funding for the Emerging Farmers Office. Anderson said the heavy emphasis on emerging BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ farmers, for example, has in some ways come at the expense of the needs of conventional farmers. Instead of prioritizing all beginning farmers, Anderson said the latest bill which passed the House prioritizes applicants with no more than $100,000 in gross farm income and who produce hemp, marijuana, or other specialty crops.

"This bill targets certain groups instead of helping all those who want to get into farming," said Anderson, the ranking House Republican on agriculture. "Our state has a long history of being a powerhouse in ag production, and we should be supporting all those who want to get into farming."

Anderson said he also opposes a provision in the ag bill which diverts money from the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council and ends the popular program.

"This is especially frustrating," said Anderson. “AFREC is a farmer-funded program that is helping to address issues of high nitrates in drinking water. That program is due for renewal and, unfortunately, some legislators want to divert those dollars to other programs. I disagree with redirecting those dollars away from AFREC, especially at a time when southeastern Minnesota is experiencing issues related to nitrates in groundwater. Senate Democrats oppose this move, and even the governor recommends AFREC programming for five more years. I hope a conference committee eliminates this part of the bill before it comes back for a vote on final passage.”

The bill (H.F. 4975) passed the House mainly along party lines after the Senate approved it 36-30 earlier in the week. It also includes measures related to energy and commerce.