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Farmers could receive grants to start co-ops under House proposal

House Photography file photo

Minnesota farmers who want to pool resources to increase processing capacity or build markets for their crops and livestock could receive up to $50,000 in state funding.

HF1687, sponsored by Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center), would create a grant program for farmer-owned co-ops.

The bill wouldn't dedicate funding to the program, but Vang hopes federal economic-recovery funds could be used.

On Wednesday, the bill was laid over, as amended, for possible omnibus bill inclusion by the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee. There is no Senate companion.

"Cooperative development is a tool we can use to help Minnesota producers innovate and build new models that could better serve their farm businesses and communities," Vang said.

St. Peter-based farmer Ben Penner said the grant program would help launch a new co-op that would help farmers interested in growing and marketing Kernza.

The perennial grain has a deep root system that provides environmental benefits such as improved water and soil quality and reduced soil erosion, according to the University of Minnesota.

He said the co-op would work closely with the university and other partners to find markets and develop new varieties of the grain.

Miah Ulysse, testifying on behalf of 40 Acre Co-op in Sandstone, which is focused on increasing opportunities for Black farmers, praised the focus on supporting co-ops.


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