There’s been a lot of talk in these first few days of the new legislative session about agriculture and the new DFL majority moving agriculture finance into a larger Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee. DFLers have been accused of being anti-agriculture, and Rep. Jean Wagenius, a longtime legislator, has been personally attacked.
DFLers, including Rep. Wagenius, have done a great deal for agriculture and greater Minnesota. In 2011, they stood against the elimination of the Homestead Credit, which caused property taxes on agricultural land to soar by nearly 11 percent, to the tune of $52 million. This year, DFLers have introduced new legislation to expand the Homeowner Property Tax Refund.
When the GOP decided to cut funding to a milk grant program for food shelves, a Farmer’s Market Nutrition program for needy women and children, a Dairy Development Program, and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, DFLers on the Ways and Means Committee — including Rep. Wagenius — identified additional funding to backfill many of the cuts.
Rather than argue about committee structure and who’s better for rural Minnesota, I hope our legislators start working together to help our farmers and lower property taxes. That’s what we expect — and deserve — from our elected officials.