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Minnesota Farmers Union sets legislative priorities

With grassroots input from its farmer-membership, Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) has set priorities for the 2010 legislative session.

These include protecting agricultural portions of the state budget, addressing property tax concerns, and promoting energy legislation. The 2010 legislative session began Thursday, February 4.

"This legislative session will be about the state's budget shortfalls and how we improve the economy and create jobs," said Doug Peterson, MFU president. "MFU will be working with our farmers to ensure that rural Minnesota is represented in those discussions."

Agriculture makes up a small part of the state's $36 billion budget, yet agriculture makes up somewhere between 20-30 percent of the jobs and wealth in Minnesota, said Peterson.

MFU leaders say they will work to make sure that cuts the state needs to make to address the more than $1 billion budget deficit does not do undo harm to rural Minnesota and the farming sector.

"MFU will also work to ensure sound funding for food safety, energy, livestock, sustainable and organic programs, and continue our work toward eliminating bovine tuberculosis from Minnesota," said Peterson.

MFU also will continue to work on the Green Acres property tax program, which saw more changes last year and continues to have issues that need to be addressed. In addition, some parts of the state have seen extreme increases in the market value of agricultural land, and MFU is working on addressing ways to stabilize values for farmland.

Three energy issues are also on the plate for MFU this year, including working to increase property owner rights regarding eminent domain for power line and pipeline projects; addressing issues with wind easement contracts; and working on the state net metering law to foster the growth of more on-farm energy projects.

These are just some of the issues MFU will be working on in the 2010 legislative session. For more information, go to www.mfu.org.

Minnesota Farmers Union is a nonprofit membership-based organization working to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers, as well as rural communities.

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