For some farmers and producers, 2014 turned to out to be a great harvest. For others, it didnít turn out so well. Heading into 2015, the agriculture community wil be keeping its tabs on the Minnesota Legislature to make sure such issues as property tax and agritourism will be helpful this year and into the future.
By Alan Van Ormer Managing Editor
With the Minnesota State Legislature just underway, Minnesota Farmer's Union President Doug Peterson said property taxes are the major concern for Minnesota farmers. "Our emphasis is making sure there is going to be equity in the property tax," he said during a phone interview on Jan. 6, the day the legislature started. The Minnesota Farmer's Union sent out a press release on Jan. 5 outlining issues it will be working on during the legislative session. They include funding for livestock, value added, and Farm to School grants, increased funding for state meat inspection programs, passing agritourism legislation, support for agriculture education including Farm Business Management, FFA and 4-H, supporting transportation funding that benefits rural roads and infrastructure and supporting Minnesota's biofuel industry. The Minnesota Farmer's Union has been working on the agritourism issue for several years, Peterson said. One of the issues centers on allowing individuals on farm property without worrying about being sued. "There are issues out there on liability," he said. "That is a piece we want to look at and change." Peterson said transportation funding is also a key and benefits the farming community. "There are pressures on our railroad and trucking (industry)," he said. "We have to be vigilant as an organization and make sure we don't have funding reduced and going forward." He said the biggest thing is a legislative session that reaches across the aisles and works together to get a tougher transportation funding package, provide property tax relief and education. "I would like to see the legislature address issues of equality in rural communities," he said.