SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Thursday, Governor Tim Walz held a ceremony at a dairy farm in Foley to sign the 2022 Agriculture, Drought Relief, and Broadband. The legislation, authored in the House by Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL – Esko), chair of the House Agriculture Committee, invested in drought relief, investments in broadband, and support for agricultural programs.
“Agriculture and food production are critical parts of our state economy and vital to the success of rural communities. Beyond that, the food we grow and produce in Minnesota feeds the entire world,” Rep. Sundin said. “This legislation highlights what’s possible when we work together toward a common goal with an eye toward compromise. As I wrap up my work at the Capitol, it’s deeply rewarding to have been part of this successful effort to support farmers in Minnesota and strengthen the future of agriculture in our state.”
“These farmers provide our most basic need - food that is healthy and affordable within our own communities,” said Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL – Brooklyn Center), Vice Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. “We must be forward-thinking to address climate weather-related risks, and this legislation protects communities now and in the future.”
Highlights of the bill include:
Over $200 million to support broadband development and the establishment of a pilot project to expand coverage to areas with low population density.
$18.4 million in drought relief including direct grants to farmers and relief through the Rural Finance Authority.
$1.25 million for the creation of a new, innovative down payment assistance program targeted toward beginning farmers and $827,000 to support beginning farmers from underrepresented communities entering the field of agriculture.
$1.5 million for the Agricultural Emergency Account to support animal disease preparedness and response, and $1 million to the University of Minnesota to purchase veterinary diagnostic equipment to test for animal diseases.
$1.25 million for the Bioincentive Program to encourage commercial-scale production of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biomass thermal energy.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is now accepting drought relief applications from specialty crop and livestock producers through July 6. Eligible farmers and producers may receive up to $7,500 for actual expenses incurred after June 1, 2021, and before May 23, 2022. More information is available here.
ATTACHED PHOTO (courtesy of the Office of the Governor): Rep. Samantha Vang, Rep. Mike Sundin, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, and Sen. Torrey Westrom witness Governor Tim Walz ceremonially signing the 2022 Agriculture, Drought Relief, and Broadband supplemental budget bill into law at a dairy farm in Foley on Thursday.