From members of the dairy industry to turkey growers, a large number of people advocating for sectors of the ag. industry visited the Capitol this week.
In fact, Wednesday was Dairy Day at the Capitol and we received good messages from testifiers who appeared before the House Agriculture Policy Committee. I am on that committee and it was interesting to hear about some of the current challenges dairy farmers face.
One thing they are asking is for the state to provide some relief from taxes that are making it very difficult for family farms to survive. Inheritance taxes, estate taxes and property taxes all take bites from them, not to mention costs incurred in order to comply with state regulations.
On another topic relevant to our part of the state, I was pleased to receive word this week that all three of Otter Tail Telcom’s applications for broadband grants have been approved. A letter I received indicates Otter Tail Telcom is expected to invest the following:
$877,874 in overall eligible expenditures in the Swan Lake West project, including the $438,937 match in state grant funds.
$210,729 in overall eligible expenditures in the Stuart Lake project, including the $105,364 match in state grant funds
$217,105 in overall eligble expenditures in the 245th project, including the $108,553 match in state grant funds.
Congratulations to the people instrumental in gaining these grants to help improve connections for area citizens.
I wrote last week about how Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget is causing concern by closing CARE treatment facilities, including one in Fergus Falls. Local citizens have reached out to me on this issue to express their disappointment. They are urging me to continue working on this issue to do what we can to keep the Fergus facility open, whether it’s through the state or privately run. This operation provides vital services and, yes, I will continue working with local officials to find a solution.
On a final note, I have introduced a $10 million bonding request to help address high-water issues between Fergus Falls and Perham. Problems started there even before last summer’s flooding and this bonding request would help fund long-term solutions.
As always, I will keep you posted as things develop and welcome your continued feedback.