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House lawmakers advance new resources to help farmers, including extension of mediation deadline

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Minnesota House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division today advanced additional resources to help farmers who are impacted by COVID-19, including another extension of the deadline for farmer lender mediations. Click here to read a letter from the Minnesota Farmers Union in support of the legislation voted on during today's hearing. Lawmakers approved all legislation with unanimous support. 

“I am pleased that DFL and Republican lawmakers were united today in advancing important COVID-19 aid and flexibility for Minnesota farmers,” said Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), chair of the Ag and Food Division. “Helping our family farms during this pandemic should not be a partisan issue and I am grateful for the hard work of many different people that inspired this bill and brought it to fruition.” 

Of particular importance, division members approved legislation (House File 4599) authored by Rep. Todd Lippert (DFL-Northfield) that extends the deadline for farmer lender mediations. Extending this deadline buys time for farmers who are unable to participate in face-to-face mediations due to public health guidelines. Many rural Minnesota residents don’t have reliable internet options, and alternatives like Zoom or Webex are not available or practical for many farmers, which makes mediation during this public health crisis nearly impossible.

"Our family farms were struggling well before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the virus has only compounded the issues that farmers and rural communities are facing,” said Rep. Lippert. "By extending the Farmer-Lender Mediation provision that was already a part of our initial COVID-19 response, we will be able to offer more time to Minnesota's farmers. We want to help farmers weather this storm and stay on the farm. This is important for farmers and their families, for rural communities, and for our food supply."

Rep. Lippert’s bill would provide that the mediation period is extended to 150 days or until December 1, 2020, whichever is later. It would also expand eligibility to include farmers who initiate mediation under the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act in August of 2020. These changes would be effective retroactive to the original date of enactment of the COVID-19 law (i.e., April 16, 2020).

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