Minnesota agriculture budget adds grain marketing safety net

A state Legislature conference committee approved setting up a grain indemnity fund and other spending

The Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator is one of the Minnesota grain elevators that has suffered a financial collapse. The elevator manager went to federal prison for stealing from the co-op.
Trevor Peterson / Agweek

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s agriculture budget will establish a fund to help protect farmers in the event of a financial collapse of a grain elevator.

The initial $10 million the state is putting into the grain indemnity fund is enough to prevent elevators from having to collect fees on grain sales to put into the fund.

If the fund drops below $8 million, a fee of 0.2% on grain sales will kick in.

The indemnity fund is part of the overall budget for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. A conference committee approved a compromise budget on Saturday, May 6.

Minnesota state Rep. Samantha Vang
Contributed by Paul Battaglia

“I'm happy that this one will be a legacy of this year's agriculture budget bill,” Rep. Samantha Vang, D-Brooklyn Center, said in Saturday’s session. “I'm also excited to see that we're making historic investments in emerging farmers. … We also make strong investments in helping farmers take care of the land, from soil health, to investments in cover crops, to looking at pollinators and just as importantly, maintaining the department and the state agencies under our jurisdiction to be able to provide quality services to farmers and the community by adding staff for support. ”


Minnesota has had some notable elevator failures in recent years but a group that represents elevators, the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, remained opposed to the fund .
Some farm groups, such as Minnesota Farm Bureau, were not in favor of a fund supported by fees.

Most Midwest states have some sort of grain indemnity fund.

Other highlights

Another fee increase could come on fertilizer purchases. The Agriculture Department will set a fertilizer inspection fee between 39 cents and 70 cents per ton. The current fee is 37 cents per ton. 

Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, protested giving the department authority that he says should be reserved for the Legislature.

Thom Petersen.jpg
Thom Petersen

Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen highlighted continued spending for AGRI, the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation Program.

The ag budget bill also includes money for emerging farmers and $100 million for broadband internet service.

Other spending includes:

  • $4 million for the Dairy Assistance Investment and Relief Initiative
  • $2 million for meat processing grants
  • $1.25 million for soil health equipment grants
Aric Putnam mug.jpg
Aric Putnam is chairman of Minnesota Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Broadband Committee
Courtesy of Aric for MN

“I think that this bill has provisions that deal with the two things I heard most of when I was talking to farmers, and that's the need for greater stability and for a brighter future, said Sen. Aric Putnam, D-St. Cloud, who chaired the Senate ag committee. “So when you think about stability, we did things like the grain indemnity and like the dairy fund, things that will make it easier for farmers to plan and to remain successful and to protect those smaller farms.”


The compromise bill also includes changes to the Board of Animal Health, expanding the board by one member from six to seven, but reducing the number of livestock producers on the board by one, from four to three. One member must be a tribal member who is experienced in animal husbandry, and three members need to be practicing veterinarians.

There had been a proposal to increase the number of board members to 11, something Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen expressed concerns about in a letter .

A late-added amendment addresses perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, what are known PFAS or “forever chemicals” in fertilizer and would prohibit them after 2032.

A floor vote in the House had not been scheduled as of May 9.

The Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to meet until May 22.

Reach Agweek reporter Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651.
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