Current Issues

Updated January 30, 2017

Governor Signs Insurance Premium Relief Law

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a legislative package into law intended to provide relief for Minnesotans with rising insurance premiums. Dayton signed HF1/ SF1 last Thursday after both the Senate and House passed the bill earlier in the day by wide margins. The law, effective January 27, requires health carriers to subsidize qualifying customers' premiums then seek a reimbursement from the state

For months the Minnesota Farm Bureau collected stories from its members, sharing the challenges farm families and small business owners across Minnesota were facing with purchasing health insurance on the individual market. By sharing those stories and individual conversations with elected officials, we were able to help decision makers understand the hardships many are experiencing with health insurance. MFBF is committed to continuing to work on this issue.

More information about the health insurance premium discount can be found at the link below.

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AFBF Endorses Bills to Repeal Death Tax

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has endorsed bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate to repeal the federal estate tax. AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the bills are needed because farm and ranch families continue to face challenges in passing their family businesses to the next generation.

"Farmers and ranchers face a number of factors that are unpredictable and beyond their control, from changing weather to fluctuating markets," said Duvall. "These family-run businesses need a tax code that encourages investment, rather than one that punishes their success. We believe that repeal of the estate tax offers the best solution to protect farms, ranches and all family-owned businesses from the estate tax."

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MFBF Hosts Council of County Presidents

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) held their Council of County Presidents meeting on January 24 at the Best Western Plus Capitol Ridge in St. Paul with over 165 Farm Bureau leaders, elected and appointed officials in attendance.

County Farm Bureau presidents and leaders heard from state legislators, as well as Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly, Minnesota Agriculture Water Resources Center Executive Director Warren Formo, MFBF President Kevin Paap, MFBF Public Policy Director Amber Hanson and MFBF Public Policy Associate Director Cole Rupprecht. Topics discussed included state and national issues updates; affordability and availability of health insurance; property taxes; Palmer Amaranth and buffers.

Photos from the event can be found here.

USDA Allows Early Termination of Some CRP Contracts for New Farmers

Beginning January 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will offer an early termination opportunity for some CRP contracts, making it easier to transfer land to the next generation of farmers. The land eligible for this early termination must be among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in CRP.

For more information, talk to your local Farm Service Agency office or visit the link below.

Iowa Supreme Court Ruling in the Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit

The Iowa Supreme Court released a 3-2 ruling late last week against the Des Moines Water Works in a lawsuit that sought damages for alleged water pollution caused by nearby drainage districts. The court's opinion said that Des Moines Water Works could not recover damages from the drainage districts because they have immunity under state law.

The ruling today means northwest Iowa drainage districts, farmers and rural citizens will not be held liable for damages from rainfall and a number of other factors, which can impact their naturally fertile land.

Des Moines Water Works will still move ahead with a federal lawsuit regarding the Clean Water Act. That trial is set to begin in late June.

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Minnesota Legislature Committee Structures

Minnesota Senate Committee Listings:

Minnesota House of Representative Committee Listings: