Omnibus agriculture bill amendments expected


A few amendments are expected to be added to an omnibus bill before the House Agriculture and Rural Development Policy and Finance Committee takes action later this week.

The Department of Agriculture is seeking to add provisions to expand mental health aid for farmers in disaster zones and to add a section regarding food safety policy.

HF2398, sponsored by Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck), would reform grain licensing regulations and extend the department’s inspection and enforcement powers to include its Wholesale Produce Dealer, Grain Buyer/Grain Storage and Warehouse oversight responsibilities.

The bill also would establish a new Dairy Research, Teaching and Consumer Education Authority as a public corporation. The authority would be governed by a board of nine directors who would serve four-year terms. Four members would be appointed by the governor; others would include a representative from the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, a milk producer representative, a Minnesota Division of the Midwest Dairy Council representative, an agricultural education teacher, as well as the commissioner of agriculture.

Ed Davis, an environmental advocate and urban planner, requested that one more board member be added from outside the dairy industry who would represent ecological sustainability.

Some of the other bill provisions would:

  • require firewood packaging to list the county where the wood was harvested;
  • allow a consortium of counties to contract for disposal of waste pesticides and indemnify them while hauling to the disposal site;
  • enable seed packet manufacturers to list the quantity of seeds in lieu of the package’s net weight; and
  • require “nonhardy” labels of nursery stock sold that is not suited for state growing zones.

Committee Chairman Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) said action is expected to be taken on the bill March 1. Sen. Doug Magnus (R-Slayton) sponsors the Senate companion, SF2061, which awaits action by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economics Committee.