According to a recent release from Gov. Tim Walz, the administration announced a series of proposals called One Minnesota Budget. A $4.1 billion proposal would provide paid family and medical leave for Minnesota’s workers, bolster support for small businesses and expand Minnesota’s workforce in the most critical sectors.
The governor’s agriculture budget, which is over $100 million, will support local farmers and producers to grow their businesses while expanding the state’s biofuels infrastructure, building soil health and supporting new and emerging farmers. The announcement follows the roll out of the One Minnesota Budget package focused on children and families.
“I’m committed to making sure Minnesota remains competitive in a global economy. From our nation-leading agriculture industries to Minnesota-based companies paving the way for a clean energy economy, Minnesota has one of the most diverse and most resilient economies in the country,” said Walz. “This budget invests in the people and businesses that made our economy strong in the first place, and it protects the natural resources that Minnesotans cherish most. By attracting and building a workforce that makes Minnesota a destination state for teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs, farmers, small business owners and skilled workers, we are building an economy that will remain strong for generations to come.”
Senator Jordan Rasmusson (09, R) states that while he supports the ag funding portion of the proposal, other parts are questionable.
"Our farmers are integral to the economy of our local communities and our state as a whole. I am therefore pleased to see the governor’s budget proposal rightfully recognize the importance of our agriculture industry. However, this proposal is critically lacking in other areas including equal support for taxpayers. Hardworking Minnesotans drive our state’s economy, but they continue to face some of the highest taxes in the nation. Until we can ease the burden on Minnesota workers and retirees, our state cannot be truly competitive."
The press release from the Walz administration further states that the One Minnesota Budget supports local farmers and producers and increases the sales of Minnesota-raised livestock produce by providing grants to help meat, poultry, egg and milk processors start up, modernize or expand their businesses. To promote locally raised and processed meat and poultry, Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan also recommend expanding the Minnesota Grown program — a program designed to promote products that were grown or raised on Minnesota farms. The One Minnesota Budget also continues the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) program which provides financial assistance for activities that advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries. Walz and Flanagan propose additional funds to the AGRI Biofuels Infrastructure Investment Grant program to promote the continued sale and use of higher ethanol blend biofuels and give drivers more affordable options at the gas pump. Farmers and producers have weathered many agricultural emergencies in the last few years.The One Minnesota Budget will replenish the Agricultural Emergency Account which allows a rapid response to agricultural emergencies including drought, flooding, HPAI and other animal disease outbreaks. To help new and emerging farmers get their footing, Walz and Flanagan’s budget provides a grant program specifically for new and emerging farmers to help them increase market access and sales. Finally, Walz and Flanagan propose investing in the health and safety of farmers through farm safety outreach, equipment upgrades, mental health outreach and other support services.
“MSGA applauds Governor Walz on his continued leadership on biofuels. This investment in infrastructure ensures biofuels will continue to be at the forefront of the state’s discussion on reducing carbon, which the biodiesel mandate is already doing today,” said Minnesota Soy Growers Association.
“With the historic budget surplus and the leadership of Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan, I’m hopeful that this could be the strongest ag budget in memory,” said Gary Wertish, President of Minnesota Farmers Union. “Throughout his first term, Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen did important work to make sure department programs met the needs of our family farmer members. What we’ve seen of this budget request builds on that work, investing in a distributed meat processing system, helping farmers implement voluntary soil health practices, building out biofuels infrastructure, and supporting new and emerging farmers. We’re also glad to see the governor propose securing the future of the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) account, which has helped establish Minnesota as a leader in agriculture and is important to our members. We look forward to seeing the rest of the budget next week.”
In addition to the ag portion, Walz said his budget creates a paid family and medical leave program to support businesses, help parents stay in the labor force and ensure Minnesotans do not have to make the choice between a paycheck and taking time off to care for a new baby or a family member with a serious illness.
The One Minnesota Budget also supports Minnesota’s workers by increasing access to earned sick and safe time, ensuring workers can accrue up to 48 hours a year of earned sick and safe time for when they need to recover from an illness, go to a medical appointment, care for a child during a school closure or get care and assistance due to domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault.
Finally, Walz and Flanagan recommend extending unemployment benefits to hourly workers in K-12 schools — including bus drivers and support professionals — who may need to apply for unemployment insurance benefits during the summer break.
The Walz administration has stated that they intend to announce additional components of the One Minnesota Budget over the next week to protect Minnesotans’ health and safety, cut taxes and improve the state’s infrastructure, with the governor's entire 2-year budget to be released on Jan. 24, according to the official press release.