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Minnesota Farmers Union details legislative priorities

Times Report
Crookston Times

    With the 2021 Minnesota legislative session underway, Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) is engaging with elected officials as they develop the next biennial budget and pandemic recovery plans. While much of the Legislature’s business is conducted virtually for now, MFU is finding every opportunity to bring family farmers to the table in important discussions.

    The organization’s 2021 legislative priorities are largely drawn from the Special Orders of Business approved by delegates to the 79th Annual MFU Convention last November. They include, but are not limited to:

    Affordable health care, including support for a MinnesotaCare “Buy-In” as proposed by Gov. Tim Walz

    • Strong funding for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and Board of Animal Health (BAH)

    • Expanding local meat and poultry processing access

    • Cooperative development initiatives

    • Promoting biofuels, including moving towards statewide E15

    • Border-to-border broadband investment

    • Incentivizing climate-smart agriculture practices

    • Supporting emerging farmers and removing systemic barriers that perpetuate racial inequity in agriculture

    “I look forward to working on behalf of MFU members this session in support of the specific needs they’ve expressed,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “COVID-19 has affected farm families in different ways, depending on how they market, but there is no question that the need is great. That’s on top of the high financial costs of health care and environmental costs of climate change.

    “Legislative action on these priorities will benefit Minnesota’s family farmers and their communities through the pandemic and beyond,” he added.

    Wertish testified on these priorities yesterday in a virtual introductory hearing for the House Agriculture Committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Sundin. MFU plans to participate in hearings as much as possible. MFU members will have the chance to meet virtually with their legislators and other elected officials and agency leaders during the organization’s annual Lobby Day. This year, it will be held Jan. 19-21 via Zoom. Register at https://bit.ly/MFULobby2021.