Letter: Correcting the ag record
I'm sorry that I once again have to correct the record with respect to the comments offered by Tim Miller. First, let me say that the overall response to our agriculture bill was very positive. By working with farmers and producers, we passed a bill that further strengthened our state's agricultural economy. The Agri-News, amongst other publications, reported, "The legislative session was good for agriculture."
We made more than $1 million in new investments at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Compared to 2011, when the Republican-controlled Legislature cut funding by over 14 percent.
We invested new money in the agricultural growth, research and innovation fund. This will help provide grants for start-up, transition, and expansion of family farm livestock operations, fund research on conventional and cover crops, and invest in the development of next-generation biofuels.
We passed language to clarify that farm trusts are able to take advantage of the state estate tax exemption. We helped ensure stable ownership of farmlands by extending the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act to 2016 to make sure banks or other creditors offer mediation to a farmer before proceeding with foreclosure, repossession, cancellation of contract or collection of judgment.
I support repealing the sales tax on farm equipment repairs and will continue to be a champion of doing so. That provision was adopted as part of the overall budget agreement. Compromise means accepting some things you may not like to get the job done.
With respect to ag property taxes, when the value of farmland has doubled or even tripled in the last few years, of course the valuation and appraisals and consequently the property taxes will change.
Finally, Mr. Miller hopes that people are gullible enough to fall for a "gotcha amendment" vote. The Republicans offered an amendment to include agricultural land to a bill dealing specifically with home foreclosures, knowing full well the amendment was not relevant and would fail. I voted against it because the amendment made no sense. They simply wanted to claim the DFL is anti-farmer; I contend that we shouldn't be playing politics with people's homes.