ST. PAUL, MN – DFL lawmakers in the Minnesota House of Representatives passed an Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture omnibus bill today on a vote of 69 to 61.
The bill invests an additional $1.7 million in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, strengthens the Department of Natural Resources’ ability to monitor shrinking groundwater and surface water levels across the state, and takes serious steps to prevent the spread of invasive plants and species, like Asian Carp.
Local Representatives Roger Erickson (DFL – Baudette) and John Persell (DFL – Bemidji) are glad to see support for agriculture and natural resources in the House.
“Northern Minnesota depends on the outdoors to support their local economies,” said Rep. Persell. “This bill will help manage those resources responsibly.”
The increases in funding for agriculture have drawn strong support from farmers and rural Minnesotans. Minnesota Farmers Union Vice President Gary Wertish lauded the bill…
“We appreciate the strong commitment and investment to agriculture that we are seeing from the legislature in this bill,” said Wertish, “Our state depends on family farmers across Minnesota and we’re pleased to see that the House bill recognizes that.”
The House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture omnibus bill takes wise steps to prepare for a stronger economic future in Minnesota, such as investing in programs to keep our ag-economy strong and growing, addressing water shortages, and taking steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
“A huge part of our state’s economy comes from agriculture,” said Rep. Erickson. “And this bill helps support those producers while also ramping up our fight on Aquatic Invasive Species.”
One component of the bill takes serious steps to prevent the spread of invasive plants and species like Asian Carp that harm Minnesota’s economy. This bill protects our multi-billion dollar natural resource and outdoor recreation industry by funding public awareness, assessment, monitoring, research and inspections designed to prevent the spread of invasive plans and species.
In order to address growing groundwater and surface water shortages across Minnesota, HF 976 provides the DNR with sorely-needed resources to effectively gather data needed to find a solution. In order to pay for better water monitoring capabilities, the bill includes a modest fee increase on heavy users of water. If cities pass the costs on to residential users, an individual water bill would go up about $1-$2 in the first year.
Other increases in agriculture funding will go to support the Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovation program (AGRI). AGRI helps strengthen local economies in rural Minnesota by expanding the Farm-to-School program, providing state grants for the start up, transition, and expansion of family farm livestock operations, assisting with the start-up of any farm, and exploring development of renewable forms of energy.