New state benefits went into effect for farmers who are facing economic hardship, including grain storage safety grants to address rising work-related accidents and deaths on the farm.
“Using federal CARES Act dollars, the Legislature worked together on a bipartisan basis this year to invest in mental health resources, prevent tragic accidents, expand MDA services, and quickly respond to threats to our food supply,” said Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), the bill’s chief author and chair of the House Ag and Finance Division. “We know these actions will not fully address the needs of Minnesota’s farmers and producers during these challenging times, but it does provide vitally needed support and assistance.”
The bill uses federal CARES Act dollars to invest in farmer mental health needs, including suicide prevention training and awareness of mental health resources. To enhance capacity for services and support to farmers for their economic well-being, it invests in essential services provided by the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Advocate program. The bill funds the veterinary diagnostic lab equipment which is needed to respond to poultry and livestock diseases like highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and African Swine Fever (ASF).
• $675,000 of the general fund allocation in fiscal year 2021 to the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer program at the University of Minnesota is for veterinary diagnostic laboratory testing equipment and supplies necessary to respond to avian influenza, salmonella and other turkey-related diseases.
• $100,000 one-time general fund expenditure in fiscal year 2021 for farm safety grant and outreach programs, with $50,000 for grain storage facility safety equipment grants and $50,000 for outreach, which can include “creating and presenting a grain storage facility safety curriculum.”
• Reestablishment of a tractor rollover prevention grant program that expired in 2019 takes effect on July 1, 2020. It permits the Agriculture Department to award grants to farmers and schools that retrofit tractors built before 1987 with eligible rollover protective structures.