The Minnesota House of Representatives passed the 2020 Supplemental Agriculture Finance bill, HF 4490, as well as an extension of the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act, HF 4599. HF 4490 passed 133-1, and HF 4599 passed unanimously. State Representative Jeff Brand (DFL – St. Peter) vice chair of the House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division, is a co-author of both bills.
“It was a difficult time to be a farmer before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only compounded the struggles our family farms and rural communities are currently facing. Today’s bills deliver much-needed support and flexibility to Minnesota’s farmers and producers,” said Rep. Brand. “I’m especially proud of the farm safety provisions included in HF 4490. Our community still mourns the tragic loss of Landon Gan, and today, as I voted for these safety measures, I did so for Landon’s family and friends that have been tireless advocates on this issue.”
The Supplemental Agriculture Finance 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 HPAI and ASF.
The extension of the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act would extend the mediation period to 150 days or until December 1, 2020, whichever is later. It would also expand eligibility to include farmers who initiate mediation under the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act in August of 2020.
A video recording of the House floor debate can be found here.