As I talk to dairy farmers in our area and across the state, one of the most common themes I hear is their need to access to capital and modern technology. To make that easier, I authored a provision to create a Dairy Modernization Loan Program that was included in last year’s agriculture bill and is now law.
The process for obtaining a loan is relatively simple and based off the successful loan model used by the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority. A dairy producer first applies for a loan from a local agricultural lender, and then the lender submits the application to the Economic Development Authority (EDA). It is then up to the EDA to decide whether or not the loan should be granted and if so, in what amount.
In the application, a dairy producer must provide information on their current dairy operations and show specifically what the loan money would be used for. The EDA will then evaluate the project’s benefits, including the economic return. Loans will then be granted to dairy producers that show a clear economic benefit and are consistent with state and federal laws.
The loans can be used to upgrade facilities, barns or equipment. I encourage any dairy farmer who has given thought to upgrading his facility to consider applying for a loan. Modernizing a facility has several advantages. Most of all, the most up-to-date equipment helps an operation operate at peak efficiency, a must in an ever competitive agricultural economy.
You can learn more about Dairy Modernization Loans at 8:30 a.m. this Monday, February 6. Rep. Greg Davids will be at the Offices of First Association in Litchfield to discuss and learn more about dairy modernization. Rep. Davids is Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and other members of the committee may also be at the meeting.
In his recent budget proposal, Governor Pawlenty proposed a 10 percent tax credit for dairy farmers making essential capital investments. Minnesota’s dairy industry faces economic challenges and the governor’s proposed loan program will help farmers who are reluctant to make large investments. For the proposal to become law, it will have to travel through Rep. Davids’ committee, so it is important for dairy advocates to show up Monday and make their voice heard.
To obtain more information about dairy modernization loans, feel free to contact my office in St. Paul. My phone number is 651-296-4344 or you can call me toll-free at 1-800-920-5861. You can also learn more by visiting the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on the web at www.mda.state.mn.us. There, you can also find information on other dairy programs such as the Dairy Profitability and Enhancement Teams.
Minnesota’s dairy industry, and agriculture in general, is the real backbone of our state. To keep the industry competitive, farmers need to have every advantage available. Dairy modernization loans help make that possible, and I strongly urge dairy producers to take advantage of them.