Over the past year, political paralysis regarding federal and state budgets has been the political norm throughout the U.S. In Minnesota, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and a Republican legislature have been battling over the state’s growing deficit, to little avail. However, earlier this week, Governor Dayton signed a bipartisan farm budget bill into law. The budget bill, overwhelmingly supported by both Republicans and Democrats, demonstrates the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy.
The budget bill reduces funding to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture by 5%, an effort, Democrats and Republicans say, to reduce the state’s growing deficit. However, the bill continues ethanol research and investment, continues funding food and agricultural inspections, and continues farming protection spending such as insurance programs.
Governor Dayton praised the bill for simultaneously reducing overall spending without hurting farmers and Minnesota citizens. “This first appropriations bill is another example of excellent bipartisan 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,” the Governor stated at the signing.
While the farm spending bill passed with bipartisan support, Minnesota politics remain bitterly divided regarding other spending amounts. Democrats in the statehouse support reducing deficits by raising taxes while Republicans maintain that lowering taxes will help stimulate the economy. Their agreement over farm spending, however, signifies the vital role of agriculture in Minnesota. Minnesota agricultural products currently rank sixth in the nation in terms of value of products sold.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer