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Farm Bill will go through some changes, state ag commissioner says

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Katrina Kessler, left, speaks at the Brown County Farm Bureau Policy at the Pub and Ag Trivia Night at the Sleepy Eye Brewing Co. Tuesday. Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen is pictured at right.

SLEEPY EYE — Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Katrina Kessler talked about the Farm Bill and agricultural issues over pizza and beer at Sleepy Eye Brewing Co. Tuesday.

Several dozen farmers attended the event sponsored by the Brown County Farm Bureau.

“I think the Farm Bill will go through some changes as it goes through the process,” Petersen said.

He talked about the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS Act) and what its affects may be in the farm bill.

“I think there is concern about what is going on in California, Colorado and some east coast states that has a big impact on agriculture. We export a lot of pork to California. You can see the higher prices. We’ll continue to work and comment on it. I think they’ll be changes as the farm bill is developed. I don’t think it would pass at this moment,” Petersen said.

“I think it’s important to balance state’s rights with when the federal government steps in and says this is too much. They’ll try to find something balanced that provides certainties so there isn’t a patchwork of things around the country. Hopefully we’ll have a farm bill. We may be still working on it during Farmfest (Aug. 6-8),” he added.

Petersen said the Minnesota spotlight has been on recreational cannabis, since it became legal, but hemp continues to grow.

“The fiber industry has finally taken off. The number of hemp farmers are down, but acres are way up. It’s not huge yet, but it’s good to see continued growth. We see larger tracts of it near Mankato, Hutchinson, Willmar,” he added.

Petersen said Minnesota Gov. Walz is heading to Canada next weekend to visit with trade officials and agriculture ministers.

“There are always concerns with dairy. Right now, high-path avian influenza and biosecurity on farms is a big issue across the state,” he added.

Sustainable aviation fuel is a great opportunity for area farmers, Petersen said.

“Whether you like them or not, electric cars and trucks are coming. It’s probably decades before we’re sitting in an electric jet. In the meantime, we need to find a better way to make jet fuel. Minnesota passed a tax credit to produce it last year. You’ll see it develop in the Upper Midwest and hopefully Minnesota,” Petersen said.

He said the Minnesota Beginning Farmer Tax Credit that provides state tax credits to landlords and sellers (asset owners) who rent or sell farmland, equipment, livestock, and other ag assets to beginning farmers involves more than 500 farms and is being copied by other states.

Kessler said the MPCA is delegated by the federal government to issue Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and solid waste permits.

“The work we do includes monitoring and assessing surface water, air quality and uses the data for people who want permits and for people living near farm facilities to interact with public and private entities to come together and develop regulations that make sense,” she added.

Minnesota Farm Bureau priority issues include supporting beginning and emerging farmers, sustainability, rural vitality, research, investment, energy and resource preservation.

It opposes burdensome feedlot permitting regulations, a proposed ban on bird hatching in schools, drain tile disclosure during land sales, fertilizer tax increases and public water inventory expansion.

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