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VOICE ®

VOLUME 35 • No. 4

of Agriculture

JULY 2015

Minnesota Farm Bureau Opposes Final Waters of the U.S. Rule

The Minnesota Legislative Special Session concluded on June 13. Below is a synopsis of the session.

MINNESOTA FARM BUREAU Federa�on (MFBF) President Kevin Paap was interviewed by PBS NewsHour on Farm Bureau’s opposi�on to the Environmental Protec�on Agency’s final �aters of the U.S. Rule. The interview was conducted as the final ruling was announced at the end of May. Submi�ed Photo

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innesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) has significant concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule defining “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). “EPA continues to conduct a messaging campaign to reassure farmers, ranchers and landowners that this rule is harmless. Unfortunately, when we actually read the rule, this is not the case,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “This final rule provides no clarity, no certainty and no limits on agency power.” “Contrary to EPA’s assurances that the final rule would address agriculture’s concerns, it turns out the final rule is even broader than the proposed rule,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “For example, the definition of “tributary” has been broadened to include landscape features that may not even be visible to the human eye, or that existed historically but are no longer present. Agencies will be able to use desktop tools, such as aerial photographs and mapping tools the average farmer does not have access to, to make that regulatory determination without ever leaving their desks.” “EPA also added entirely new possible jurisdictional features that were not subject to public review during the proposed

rule, including prairie potholes, which will affect a significant portion of Minnesota,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “Unfortunately, the rule-making process has failed farmers, ranchers and landowners. Agriculture’s concerns were dismissed as ‘silly’ and ludicrous,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “It’s hard to make rules that are workable outside of the Washington D.C. beltway when the agencies made it quite clear that they were genuinely not open to considering objections to the rule.” “Now that we know what we are working with, it is critical that the Senate takes action,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have run around Congress, and it’s time the Senate reestablishes their oversight role in the development of agency rules. MFBF strongly supports legislation that would send EPA back to the drawing board to come up with a rule that is practical and actually achieves environmental benefits in a clear way. We urge Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken to stand up for farmers, ranchers and landowners and support the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.” More information on the final rule can be found on page 4B.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Annual Meeting November 19-21 MATT RUSH The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Annual Meeting is set for November 19-21 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. The conference will have

breakfast on the

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sessions on agricultural issues, as well as Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) contests and award banquets. Keynote Speaker: Matt Rush Matt Rush will be the keynote speaker at the noon luncheon on Saturday, November 21. Matt Rush is the fourth

generation in his family to be a New Mexico farmer and cattle rancher. He graduated valedictorian of his high school class. Of course, he was only one of 6. He says, “You know you're from a small town when to be in the top 10 percent you have to be number one!” He and his dad partner on a ranch, and to support his

farming habit, Rush travels the country as a professional speaker conducting leadership and motivational seminars. He is also the executive vice president of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau. He was selected to represent American agriculture in Germany as

Taxes Possible improvements to address the burden on agricultural landowners for property taxes did not occur when the House/Senate Tax Conference Committee decided to not have a tax bill in 2015. The House version of the bill included a proposal to alleviate half the agricultural property tax load caused by debt bonds approved of for school districts. Earlier efforts to establish a more equitable and balanced approach for the financial obligation on different types of taxpayers for school districts and local government debt bonds also fell short. Legislators concerned over the “tax shift” caused by not charging agricultural property owners up to 10 times the tax amounts that homeowners without agricultural property pay would not approve the legislation to have these property taxes based equally on the basis of a house/garage and one acre (market value). Improvement to Minnesota’s death tax also in the House tax proposal evaporated when the tax bill did not move forward. Agri-tourism and Ag Research Several accomplishments were achieved, working cooperatively with other agricultural organizations. These include the adoption of legislation providing limited liability protection for agri-tourism inherent risk and also authorization with funding for production-oriented agricultural research. Sod Farm Bureau policy seeking to keep sod from being classified as an agricultural product and not nursery stock was also implemented through legislation. Ag Education Farm Bureau support for funding with safeguards to prevent diverting funds away from the Farm Business Management Program was successfully included in legislation with an infusion of $4 million. The Minnesota Agriculture Education Leadership Council was provided the

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Care

2015 Minnesota Farm Bureau Summer Leadership Event & Tour

July 17, 2015

2015 Minnesota �e�is�a��e Session Recap

Minnesota Farmers

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Animals Environment Food Family

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The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

July 2015 Voice of Agriculture  
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