"The recently completed Minnesota legislative session took some positive steps forward for Farm Bureau and agriculture in Minnesota," said Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) President Kevin Paap. "This included repealing taxes adopted in the 2013 Session and continuing support for renewable fuels."

Taxes

One of MFBF's top priorities for the session was the repeal of the sales taxes charged for labor costs associated with machinery and equipment repair. This legislation also repealed the sales taxes intended to be charged for storage and warehousing services and repealed the Minnesota gift tax.

MFBF supported the change for calculating Agricultural Homestead Tax Credits, resulting in a roughly $200 increase in 2014. The improvement in the formula is a better policy approach than the previous law.

Agriculture's 48-Hour Overtime Structure

MFBF supported the continued Minnesota structure for a 48-hour week for small agricultural employers, prior to requiring overtime payments. The legislative change to increase the minimum wage levels did not include the reduction of the agricultural regular pay, 48-hour per-week system.

Biodiesel

After defending the current requirements, Minnesota Farm Bureau and other biodiesel supporters successfully promoted longer-term solutions that were part of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's "un-session" bill, signed into law by Governor Dayton.

This legislation:

1.) Maintains the current schedule (starting July 1) for implementing the increase to a 10 percent biodiesel blend this summer.

2.) Removes October from the months for the higher blend rate, and maintains the lower five percent blend rate, which will alleviate possible storage issues from fuel bought and stored in October.

3.) Provides for the availability of Number 1 diesel fuel on a year-around basis and will allow for supplies of this fuel to be built up over the entire year without affecting biodiesel since Number 1 is sold at higher prices.

4.) Improves the current law by providing for continued evaluation and oversight by state agencies to safeguard consumer interests before moving to the possible future 20 percent biodiesel blend rate in 2018.

5.) Maintains the exemption list on a "going forward" basis.

Maintaining Sound Wolf Management

One of the more extended legislative matters of the 2014 legislative session involved a proposal by wolf advocates to close the hunting season or taking of wolves using snares. MFBF policy supports wolf hunting and trapping. The current law was maintained.

"MFBF also worked on issues regarding animal care, crop protection tools and pollinators, as well as, legislation regarding the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute Board of Directors make-up," said Paap.

"While the session may have ended, another job has started. Farmers and ranchers need to be fully engaged with their current legislators and those seeking office over the coming months and explain the impact legislation has on them," said Paap. "We need to work with everyone to ensure we have a business climate in Minnesota that supports agriculture, not stifles it."

Minnesota Farm Bureau representing Farmers • Families • Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureaus across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for young farmers and ranchers develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for children. Join Farm Bureau today and support our efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.