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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Anderson (R)

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Funding for dairy farmers a big win at Capitol this year

Monday, June 17, 2019

 

By Rep. Paul Anderson

The Legislature came together in near-unanimous support of Minnesota’s dairy industry this past session by allocating $8 million to help producers defray the cost of enrolling in the new federal revenue protection program.

Sign-up began this week (June 17). Those who dairy in Minnesota and whose milk production is under a set level, equivalent to about 750 cows, are eligible to sign up for the state assistance. It will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

A previous margin protection program left a bad taste with many producers as the cost of premiums out-weighed any benefit the program provided. This new version is supposedly better and should offer more protection than the previous plan. I would encourage all dairy folks to at least check out this new program and utilize the financial assistance the state is providing for those who sign up for five years.

This being Dairy Month, we salute and say thanks to those involved in the dairy industry. They have been experiencing a prolonged period of depressed prices, one where the revenue generated by milk sales hasn’t fully covered the out-of-pocket expenses involved in running a dairy operation. And for many, that means little if any revenue is left to allocate for the many hours of labor involved. Minnesota has lost far too many of our smaller operations, and that is having an impact on the area economy. It’s hoped the situation stabilizes and improves so we don’t continue seeing a 10 percent loss of dairy operations in our state on an annual basis.

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An organization known as Midwest Outdoors Unlimited, whose base is right here in central Minnesota, does an outstanding job in making outdoor trips available to our seniors and veterans. Whether it’s taking a group out on pontoons for an afternoon of fishing or assisting a disabled veteran to get out in the woods for a chance to hunt deer, this group is right there. Through Legacy funding, we were able to help with their mission. Congratulations to those involved with Midwest Outdoors and the three local chapters in this part of the state!

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Another little-known piece of legislation that we got passed this year dealt with decommissioned military vehicles that have been sold to private citizens by the federal government. Until now, they were sold for off-road use only. A veteran from the Albany area contacted me last year and told of purchasing such a vehicle and wanting to register it in Minnesota. These are identical to what are known as Humvees, vehicles produced for civilian use. With the change in statute, if these vehicles are equipped with all the safety features as other vehicles, they may now be licensed.

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There have been conflicting reports on just what the state changed in regard to conforming to federal tax code in relation to Section 179 expensing. Some have said that we are now in full compliance and can depreciate up to $1 million in the year of purchase. That’s not correct. We did conform to some definitions by allowing more capital purchases to qualify for fast depreciation, however, the $25,000 maximum and 20 percent the first year still remain. Check with your tax consultant for details but, generally speaking, it’s still going to take five years for a business to fully depreciate large capital purchases.

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