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Lawmakers can help rural Minnesota

Published by AGRINews on May 9, 2019

The Minnesota Legislature is rushing to finish its work before the session ends.

The omnibus budget bill that is being debated in the Senate and House is of special interest. The package — a smorgasbord for rural Minnesota — has great potential for farmers and communities. The budget bill gives priority to value-added agriculture opportunities for farmers and stresses rural broadband expansion.

“This legislation focuses on repurposing existing resources to directly impact the bottom line of Minnesota farm families,’’ said Torrey Westrom, chairman of the Senate’s Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Development Committee.

Westrom, who is the legislation’s co-author, is from Elbow Lake.

The bill would make an investment in the soybean processing and research facility at the University of Minnesota-Crookston; put money in the Dairy Modernization and Investment Program, which targets owners of smaller herds with loans and interest rate assistance; and increases dairy development grants to help producers create updated business plans.

The legislation also offers to increase funding to the state’s border-to-border broadband program to $50 million. Broadband development, which often flies beneath the radar in terms of priorities, continues to have the potential to influence the lives of rural Minnesotans for decades to come.

The $258 million bill has won Senate approval and awaits possible conference action involving the House before the Legislature reaches its May 20 adjournment date.

The Republican-controlled Senate and DFL-controlled House have major differences in priorities involving spending on schools, the amount of any gasoline tax increase and much more.

Read the original article here