Today, leading Minnesota organizations on hunger relief and agriculture submitted a letter to the Minnesota House and Senate leadership, urging legislators to increase the 2023 agriculture budget to invest in our farmers and food systems. With a historic $17.6 billion surplus, the Minnesota Legislature has a unique opportunity to deliver for small and mid-sized farmers, farm and food system, and rural communities.
Twenty-two groups signed onto the letter, led by Land Stewardship Project, Second Harvest Heartland, and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. 285 individual farmers also signed on to an earlier petition for a higher agriculture budget.
Right now, Minnesota spends less than 0.5% of its budget on agriculture. Agriculture is responsible for $112 billion annually in total economic impact in Minnesota, driven by farmers, farmworkers, food makers, processors and entrepreneurs. To better support the state’s farmers and rural communities, the Agriculture Committees deserve at least a $110 million budget target.
An increased budget would provide appropriate space to support the many priorities funded through the Agriculture Committees, including programs that would:
- Increase financial and capacity investments in infrastructure, small and mid-size processing and market development state-wide, supporting resilient local and regional food systems that strengthen rural economies.
- Enable land access and farm viability for emerging farmers, expanding capital, training, technical assistance, and support for small- and mid-sized emerging, beginning and aspiring farmers.
- Leverage Minnesota agriculture to create positive climate and ecosystem impact, providing the resources farmers need to build the health of their soil, which will clean our water, build resiliency from extreme weather and combat climate change.
- Link nutrition and food access needs to Minnesota agricultural producers, ensuring all Minnesotans have nutritious food.
“We recognize that these priorities are interconnected, and decision makers should be given a budget target with room to support Minnesota’s farm and food system holistically, rather than pitting essential programs against each other to compete for funding,” said Erin McKee, Director of Community Food Systems, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
“By leveraging connections with our state’s small and emerging farmers, we can better feed families. As a major agricultural state, Minnesota is uniquely poised to lead the nation in supporting consistent access to food for all residents, in part, by funding a comprehensive agriculture budget this legislative session,” said Rachel Sosnowchik, Public Affairs Special, Second Harvest Heartland.
“We urge Minnesota legislators to provide ample funding for these committees to tangibly deliver for people and the land. Investing in our farmers, food system, and providing healthy, local products to Minnesotans is one of the smartest investments our state can make,” says Laura Schreiber, Policy Organizer for the Land Stewardship Project.
Letter signatories appreciate the progress made by the Legislature this session and encourage the House and Senate to better show up for our state’s farmers, farmworkers, food makers, processors and entrepreneurs as they develop the state budget targets.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: Based in Minneapolis with offices in Washington, D.C., and Berlin, Germany, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems. To learn more, visit: www.iatp.org.
Second Harvest Heartland: At Second Harvest Heartland, we work to end hunger together. As one of the nation's largest, most efficient, and most innovative hunger-relief organizations, we leverage our unique position in the emergency food chain to make an impact. In close partnership with a network of 423 food shelf and nonprofit partners and 1,115 hunger-relief programs, we support those in our region facing hunger today. More than a food bank, we’re a leading partner in the policies and programs that work to end hunger, like SNAP, school meals, and senior nutrition programs. And we’re an innovator where food can be the solution, like FOODRx and Kitchen Coalition. Learn more at 2harvest.org.
Land Stewardship Project: The Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project (LSP) is a private, nonprofit, membership-based organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture, and to develop healthy communities. LSP is dedicated to creating transformational change in our food and farming system. To learn more, visit www.landstewardshipproject.org.
Download the press release.