Dairy Day at the Capitol was Wednesday. It provided members from parts of the state like ours with an opportunity to highlight how important this industry – and agriculture in general – is to Minnesota's economy. Dairy production was up 4 percent last year, even though we experienced drought conditions. There are 455,000 cows in Minnesota on 3,900 licensed dairy farms. Each provides about 25,000 of economic activity to the state and Minnesota exported $218 million in dairy products last year, 13 percent of the national total.
Dairy is a huge component of Minnesota's agriculture industry and a key driver of our economy. It helped buoy our state during the recession. This makes the decision to eliminate the Agriculture Finance Committee as a stand-alone panel all the more perplexing. Farmers already are dealing with high feed costs, low milk prices and a sometimes overwhelming permitting process.
We should be doing more to encourage expansion in agriculture areas such as dairy. The Dept. of Agriculture received 325 applications for a livestock investment grant program which I helped to continue funding. They hope to fund 80 to 100 of the grants to assist in meeting a big demand for operational improvements.
Click here to listen to a brief audio clip where I talk more about Dairy Day.