GILFILLAN ESTATE - Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday he hopes to call a one-day, special legislative session on Monday, Sept. 9 to appropriate disaster aid to 18 Minnesota counties and repeal a new state sales tax on farm equipment repair.
Giving a Farmfest forum keynote address, Dayton called the month-old tax on repairs to tractors and other farm equipment, which was intended to generate $28.6 million the next two years, the biggest mistake of the 2013 legislative session.
"Nobody wants to take responsibility for it," Dayton told reporters outside the Forum building. "Legislators said they didn't know about the tax until the morning after it became law."
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Gov. Mark Dayton talks with DNR Regional Manager Dennis Frederickson at Farmfest on Thursday.
Dayton wants to provide storm damage relief to 18 counties, including Sibley and McLeod counties, which were eligible for federal relief after June 20 and 21 storms dumped 500-year rainfall amounts in 24 hours, according to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The agency appropriated $166,021 to McLeod County and $70,329 to Sibley County earlier this summer.
Republicans have been calling for a repeal of the new warehouse tax that would expand the 6.875 percent sales tax to warehouses starting April 2014. The added tax was estimated to generate almost $100 million a year.
"That can be addressed in the next (regular) session." Dayton said.
Some state businesses have already started looking for warehouse facilities in other states and stopped Minnesota expansion plans, according to several news reports.
Dayton said he doesn't have second thoughts about raising taxes for people making more than $200,000 a year as a way to generate more tax revenue.
"They should pay more taxes than people that don't make that much," Dayton added. "We had to raise income taxes after deciding to pay back public school education funding we earlier borrowed. ...When I took office, Minnesota finances were a mess with deficits and accounting gimmicks."
Dayton said his opponents claim the State of Minnesota should not do more with education.
"I say we can't afford not to do more," Dayton added. "We live in an increasingly challenging world. We need to match specialty skills and educational opportunities with job demand."
He said the Minnesota economy is recovering faster than most other states and that agriculture is the "bedrock" of the state economy.
"When farmers do well, Main Street businesses do," Dayton said. "To appreciate where we are, remember where we were."
Winona County dairy producer Glen Groth talked about big market expansion opportunities in Asia.
North Dakota State University agricultural business major Kristi Schaffer said her summer internship at Gaylord-based Wakefield Pork was a "great opportunity to see if she is a great fit for the company, going to workshops and touring businesses."
"They paid my way to the Minnesota Agricultural Ambassador Institute in Jackson," Schaffer said.
Recent University of Minnesota graduate Luke Daninger, who works for Land O' Lakes, said "there are agricultural jobs all over the place, especially in agriculture bio-technology and other technical positions dealing with new, value-added products."
Ridgewater College Agriculture Department Chairperson Kim Lippert, who farms with her husband Dan near Blomkest, said there is no better time to be enrolled in ag business. She said the program has 235 students enrolled in the two-year program this fall, one-third more students than last year.
"You don't have to grow up on a farm to be successful in this business," Lippert said. "Internships can help acquaint people with it. We need people with people skills, strong technical skills, a good work ethic, integrity and a willingness to learn."
University of Minnesota Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations Director Adam Fischer said there are new food systems available for producers looking for corporate and individual niche markets.
National Pork Board President Karen Richter said the Pork Checkoff Program has tools available for producers for markets of all shapes and sizes.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).