Our nation’s agriculture is a major source of food production for the world and activity at both the state and federal levels can have significant impacts – both good and bad – on our food and energy production, land-use habits and, of course, the general health of our population.
Although I am a state legislator, I have received a number of inquiries regarding the federal government’s 2018 farm bill. As Congress works on this legislation, click here for a good overview of the issues at hand on this subject. The 2014 legislation expires Sept. 30 and the link includes a recap of that version and provides a lay of the land for 2018.
At the state level, there are a couple of important recent notes. First, House and Senate resolutions to delay the adoption of a new nitrogen rule, which would further regulate the use of fertilizer, were formally published last week.
The new ruling put forward by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration impacting the application of fertilizer has raised significant concerns in the agriculture community. While formal implementation the rule is not scheduled to occur until 2020, the Legislature has invoked Section 14.126 of state law, effectively pausing the rule to allow the next Legislature to further examine the issue during the 2019 session.
Numerous concerns remain on this issue and it would be helpful to give them the public attention and scrutiny they deserve next session so we can avoid making decisions with long-lasting impacts we come to regret. Click here for the resolutions on pages 1,544-1,545. I touched on this subject in a recent email (including info on the 80-day comment period currently taking place) and you can click here for that letter.
On a similar but unrelated subject, I am among several House members who this week issued a letter to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture requesting an extension on the new June 20 deadline for the application of dicamba herbicides in farm fields.
The request comes after wet conditions – including heavy April snowfalls – delayed Minnesota’s planting season. Farmers were late getting into the fields and then persistent June rains further slowed their progress. This has allowed little time to spray their dicamba-tolerant soybeans this season, the first year with the state’s new June 20 deadline in place. An extension would let farmers get their work done. North Dakota has a June 30th cut-off date and a few more days here to match that date seems reasonable. It goes without saying, but we expect applicators to continue following other regulations on dicamba application.
In closing, I want to thank all of those who attended recent town hall meetings I have conducted in the area with fellow legislators. The feedback we received is appreciated and I look forward to continuing to discuss the issues with people in our district.