Today, Governor Mark Dayton signed the Omnibus Agriculture Appropriations Bill (Senate File 1016/House File 1039) into law. The bill appropriates nearly $79 million for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Board of Animal Health and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute over the next two years. The sum of the appropriations represents a 5% reduction to each of the three agencies' operating budgets.
Governor Dayton was joined at a signing ceremony by Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Doug Magnus, House Agriculture Committee Chair Rod Hamilton, Senator Gary Kubly, and Representative Kent Eken. Kevin Paap, President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and Doug Peterson, President of the Minnesota Farmers Union were also in attendance.
Signing the bill, Governor Dayton said, "This first appropriations bill is another example of excellent bi-partisan cooperation, for which I thank the Committee Chairs, Ranking Democrats, and Commissioner Frederickson. It is a model for how we can work together and compromise in order to reach a conclusion.
"I also commend Commissioner Frederickson and his staff for increasing the efficiency of the Department of Agriculture by merging two agency divisions. They have achieved a 5% operating budget reduction without any loss of services to Minnesota citizens."
The bill adopts a number of recommendations from Governor Dayton's budget proposal including:
- Implementing a 5% reduction to Minnesota Department of Agriculture agency operations;
- Paying out all remaining ethanol deficiency payments in the first year of the biennium at a total of $13.114 million;
- Providing funds to improve food safety through increased inspections of food retailers and manufacturers;
- Providing funds to protect farmers and fertilizer applicators by increasing inspections of anhydrous ammonia storage tanks; and
- Moving Minnesota forward into the next generation of the alternative fuels economy by allocating $5 million from the ethanol producer payment program (which is to be ended) to Next Gen Energy Grants and to grants and loans th