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Ag voice heard at legislative session

Farm Bureau applauds help for beginning Minnesota farmers.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

June 6, 2023

3 Min Read
Minnesota State Capitol
LOUD AND CLEAR: Minnesota legislators extended tax credit for individuals looking to get into farming.Farm Progress

Looking back on the 2023 Minnesota legislative session, one thing is clear: Agriculture’s voice was heard.

“It’s really good to see that the beginner farmer tax credit saw an expansion this year. It’s great to see that several more opportunities are going to be allowed through that beginner farmer tax credit, like family members being included for eligibility,” says Pierce Bennett, director of public policy with Minnesota Farm Bureau.

In this bill, the beginning farmer tax credit is extended, and immediate family members are now allowed to participate in the program for sales of agricultural land. Sellers of land can receive up to 8% of the sale price, up to $50,000, against taxes owed on the sale.

“I think that in and of itself speaks to a communication from the state of Minnesota — that we want to help folks who want to come back home to the family farm or start their own farm to have that opportunity,” Bennett says.

Conservation and the environment received a lot of discussion at the Capitol this latest session, and Bennett was glad to see a biofuels financial assistance appropriation of $6.75 million come through, “a program to help the biofuels industry help strengthen and help them give more opportunities to farmers who sell into those markets.”

Related:Efforts to keep farmers farming

Soil health received a boost through financial assistance programs as well as a new program being established, “supported by a broad swath of agricultural groups that we believe is going to help give farmers the tools that’s going to be backed by grant funding and other types of funding that they need to institute, whether it be in cover crops or needing the equipment to do other conservation-oriented work on their farms,” Bennett says. This bill includes $1.2 million for the Soil Health Financial Assistance Program, while there are also $21 million in soil health grants through the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

Legislators also came through with investing in research and investment in Minnesota agriculture through continued funding for the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and the Minnesota Agriculture, Education and Leadership Council. “Those are programs and entities here in Minnesota that truly help farmers grow and help them find new opportunities. They help them recreate their farms with new products and they help build those farms into the future,” Bennett says. AURI receives $1.5 million in this bill for facilities.

DAIRI beneficial to farmers

Dairy farmers also gained help in the form of the Dairy Assistance, Investment, Relief Initiative that provides $4 million in assistance to Minnesota dairy cow operations that produced less than 16 million pounds in 2022 and were enrolled in the Dairy Margin Coverage Program, a federal dairy risk protection program.

State legislators also approved $10 million for a grain indemnity program, which provides protection for farmers who are owed money in the event grain buyers or elevators become financially insolvent. Minnesota Farm Bureau’s policy “does not speak to support of a program that is farmer-funded, and that’s because at our core, our membership believes that protection programs like this should not have the burden of that fall to the farmers,” Bennett says. “We were very participatory in conversations throughout the Legislature around trying to make sure this program worked best for farmers, but gave them the option to determine whether or not they wanted to participate. We weren’t coming out and saying one should or shouldn’t participate; we were simply saying we want to make sure that option is there, and that it’s an option that can be easily chosen.”

He adds that Farm Bureau will continue to be part of the conversations on this program as future regulation rulemakings go forward.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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