ST. PAUL – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) looks forward to working with the Walz-Flanagan administration and Minnesota’s legislators in the 2023 legislative session to make Minnesota an even better place to farm, raise a family and grow a business.
MFU will advocate for policy set by its grassroots membership. Members brought forth resolutions at their county conventions late last summer and into fall. Those resolutions were combined and debated by elected delegates from across the state during the annual convention in November. Delegates established Special Orders of Business to guide legislative work this year. The orders include:
- Making health care affordable and accessible, including expanding MinnesotaCare through a public ‘buy-in’ option that will improve choices in rural Minnesota and lower costs through competition.
“As small business owners, family farmers disproportionately purchase health insurance on the private market and are hit hard by high premiums and lack of choice between health plans in rural areas,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “This cuts into their farm income and pushes too many farmers to consider giving up the farm, seeking a second off-farm job with insurance, or going without health coverage all together—a decision that could prove financially devastating. We’ve advocated to expand MinnesotaCare through an affordable buy-in option and feel strongly that this is the year we can finally take this important step for farmers and other small business owners.”
- Limiting corporate control and ensuring competitive markets by defending Minnesota’s Corporate Farm Law, strengthening Minnesota’s antitrust laws, funding capacity at the state Attorney General’s office to bring cases against companies who use their power to abuse farmers, consumers, and workers; strengthening prohibitions against mergers and passing Right to Repair.
- Expanding local and regional processing by continuing to support meat processing training programs at technical colleges, supporting incentives for employee retention, funding state meat inspection services and establishing a certification navigator position, and working across government to establish financing options, develop model business plans, provide technical assistance, streamline regulations and permitting, and otherwise make it easier to start a new meat processing business.
- Creating climate resilience by establishing and expanding voluntary publicly funded conservation programs that offer incentives for on-the-ground practices that promote soil health and improve the climate, funding alternative crop research at land-grant universities, removing the sales tax on fencing equipment and establishing other incentives for grazing, and expanding the use of biofuels.
“We understand there are many demands on the state budget, but we believe in supporting family farmers, the foundation of Minnesota’s economy,” Wertish said. “Minnesota’s farmers generate $112 billion in economic impact and support 430,000 jobs, but their livelihood is threatened by extreme weather, lack of market access and rising health care costs. We believe that growing the state’s investment in family farmers and supporting agriculture will help build a farm and food system that is more resilient, distributed, and fair not only for farmers, but also for workers and consumers.”
In addition to these priorities, MFU will continue to advocate for a grain indemnity fund this session.
“We strongly believe that to adequately protect producers and create a fair regulatory system for buyers, any changes to the grain program must include an indemnity fund,” Wertish wrote in a letter to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “Too many families have been hurt by elevator failures to continue to leave farmers without real protection. . .. We feel strongly about this issue, because our members and others who market grain are among the least protected in the nation.”
The 2023 Minnesota legislative session began Jan. 3 and must end by May 22.
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.