Minnesota is known for our diverse agricultural industry and our goal this session is to make that industry more profitable and environmentally sound. I have introduced four bills that would provide infrastructure and funding to assist Minnesota farmers in the areas where it’s most needed. These bills have been a work-in-progress over the past four years and I am optimistic about the reception they have received this session.
A bill that would help the state’s struggling dairy industry received a hearing this week in the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Finance Committee. HF 52, which would allow for a dairy investment tax credit for qualifying expenditures used to improve dairy operations, was included in the Governor’s budget proposal earlier this session and is receiving bipartisan support in the House. If passed this session, the program would cost approximately $5 million in 2008. I have also authored a variation of this bill, HF 64, which would allow the investment tax credit to apply to livestock producers as well as dairy.
House file (HF) 158 is a bill relating to construction and other materials used in livestock farming operations. The bill would exempt from sales and use tax any materials used or consumed in agricultural production of personal property intended to be sold ultimately at retail. The state of Minnesota is one of the top dairy producers in the nation and this legislation recognizes recent industry hardships and makes improvements and supplying easier.
The Rural Finance Authority (RFA) partners with local lenders to provide affordable credit to eligible farmers. My HF 497 appropriates from the bond proceeds fund money to purchase participation interests in or to make direct agricultural loans to farmers. This program provides funding especially for beginning farmers.
The stability of our statewide economy depends on the stability of our rural and agricultural economies. The interconnection between the two is often overlooked, but not just farmers benefit from farming and agricultural products. If you would like more information on this session’s agriculture bills, visit http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s third term in the legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004 and 2006.