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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Senator Weber, Senate, pass bipartisan rural development, farmers-focused agriculture bill

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate passed its Agriculture budget bill to support agriculture, rural development and rural COVID-19 recovery. The comprehensive legislation is focused on helping Minnesota farmers while spurring innovation in the agriculture industry and provides resources for broadband expansion throughout the state. 

“This is a bipartisan compromise that focuses on our shared agricultural and rural priorities,” Senator Bill Weber (R-Luverne) said. “We’re helping Minnesotan farmers and our rural communities by prioritizing innovative investment, mental health and broadband infrastructure to drive development across our state.”

 The legislation helps the agricultural community recover from the pandemic by strengthening the ag sector supply chains and invests in helping more meat processing facilities expand and grow. Ultimately these investments will provide more jobs, improve our processing efficiency, and provide more purchasing options for consumers.

The Senate agriculture budget also gives historic funding to the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program at $40 million over the next two fiscal years. This funding will develop permanent broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. This funding from the legislature matches the critical need that has become apparent in the wake of COVID-19. 

 Furthermore, the bill provides a $7 million grant to improve biofuel infrastructure by allowing gas stations to sell higher blends of biofuels. This investment helps Minnesota continue to lead the nation in pioneering clean, homegrown fuels, like E-15. Additionally, the budget includes grants for farm safety equipment and allows the creation of a grain storage facility safety curriculum. Mental health outreach on farms and additional mental health services are also included, which continues funding for the existing 24-hour crisis hotline.

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