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Click here for a printer-friendly version of the information below.
For the first time in recent memory, the 2014 Legislature adjourned prior to the Constitutional deadline for adjournment. Minnesota Milk worked on several issues this year and, for the most part, our issues were resolved with favorable outcomes.
Included in this report:
- Business to Business Sales Tax Repeal
- Property Tax Relief
- The City of Litchfield
- Lewis & Clark Rural Water System
Minimum Wages/Overtime Threshold
AGRI Fund Preserved
Minnesota Milk is always looking for member feedback as we prepare for the 2015 Legislative Session. If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas you would like heard, contact us today.
Environmental Regulatory Reform
Well managed dairy farms provide significant natural resource benefits to Minnesota. Substantial acreage committed to alfalfa and hay production reduces soil erosion. The application of manure as a soil amendment and natural crop fertilizer reduces the need for commercial fertilizers. Facts support the dairy sector’s positive impact on the environment; however, some regulators and advocacy organizations misunderstand current agricultural practices. This forces dairy farmers to overcome misinformation in the process of obtaining permits or defend themselves in the permit enforcement process.
- We support the implementation of ordinances and regulations based on sound science and current technology to ensure that Minnesota dairy famers can continue to positively impact our environment.
- A recent State of Minnesota Administrative Law Judge report validates many of our concerns regarding the state’s proposed feedlot rule amendments. We want to work with legislators and MPCA officials to update rules to provide a more efficient permitting process and greater certainty regarding administration of environmental regulations.
Competitive Sales Tax Policy
Minnesota dairies are looking for opportunities to grow or to reinvest in old facilities and equipment to remain economically and environmentally sustainable. Growth and reinvestment of dairies will produce more economic activity and bring more jobs to the state. One method to encourage this investment is to reduce costs. The recent extension of business-to-business sales tax on agricultural equipment repair services has disadvantaged Minnesota’s dairy sector. It is extremely burdensome to smaller farms and beginning producers; due to their use of older equipment, commonly needing more frequent repair.
- We support the repeal of business-to-business sales taxes, especially the tax on agricultural equipment repair.
- We support incentives such as sales tax exemptions on construction materials for renovation of barns, storage facilities and milking parlors in the context of the broader efforts to adjust Minnesota’s tax system.
Competitive Overtime Pay
Minnesota is already an island when it comes to the overtime pay threshold for the agriculture sector. Current law states that farmers pay agricultural employees overtime pay at the rate of one and half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 48 in a week. Out of eight Midwestern states, Minnesota is the only state that does not recognize the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act exemption from overtime pay for agriculture workers. This makes it difficult for Minnesota dairies to reinvest and strengthen our communities, planet and people.
- We seek legislation to clarify the farm overtime exemption for agricultural employees to ensure that Minnesota dairy farmers are not placed at a further competitive disadvantage compared to other states.
- We support House File 92 amendments for Agricultural employment, which maintains the current 48 hour overtime standard for agricultural employees.
Dairy Research Teaching & Consumer Education Center
A Governor appointed Authority Board made up of dairy producers, industry representatives, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is responsible for planning, designing and developing the state’s first Dairy Center. It is focused on addressing the needs of the state’s dairy industry including; more practical research for sustained dairy profitability, enhanced educational opportunities for new and existing dairy producers and dairy employees. Ultimately, the objective will be to obtain state funding to acquire a site, predesign the Center and secure state funds to match non-state funding contributions to develop, construct and operate Minnesota’s Dairy Research, Teaching and Consumer Education Center.
- We support the Authority’s recommendations and proposals to implement this public-private partnership which will advance the dairy sector.
- Office of the Governor
- Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH)
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)
- Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR)
- Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)
- Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Minnesota Rural Development
- Minnesota Farm Service Agency