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Thursday, May 23, 2024

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Tornadoes kill 5 and injure dozens in Iowa; coalition presses lawmakers to put climate bond on CA November ballot; More residential care coming for children with acute mental health needs; and ND again ranks high for workplace danger.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

MN Family Farms Make Their Case for Farm Bill Inclusion

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Friday, May 5, 2023   

Congress is gathering input as it looks to reauthorize the Farm Bill. Voices from Minnesota's agricultural sector hope independent family farms get a fair shake.

The Farm Bill covers a range of components tied to the nation's food system. It's updated every five years, and the current plan expires this fall.

Southeastern Minnesota dairy farmer Bonnie Haugen recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers about what she and other advocates want to see in the funding package. She said Congress needs to shift more support to smaller operations, noting that too many monopolies have eroded the presence of family farms, including in her area.

"When we bought these acres, 30 years ago this year, there was about 12 dairy farms within about a three-mile radius," she said. "As of last March, we are the last ones."

The Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project said a big help would be keeping provisions about enforcing antitrust laws. Small farmers also want full funding of conservation programs, arguing that those dollars shouldn't go to factory farms that may not be as motivated to preserve soil health. Some elements of the emerging plan have bipartisan support, but there are still political differences within the debate.

Sarah Goldman, policy organizer for the Land Stewardship Project, said more Minnesota farmers are nearing retirement age, and predicted a huge generational transfer of land in the coming years. She said Congress has an opportunity to create a better path for those who want to carry on the spirit of family farms.

"If we aren't able to facilitate land access for beginning farmers," she said, "then there aren't going to be folks who are able to continue on and support their communities, and feed their communities."

Her organization believes there should be more support for incubators and cooperative farms. It has said that could boost access to infrastructure, equipment and training for aspiring producers, and also create more opportunities for farmers of color.


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