Swedzinski says drought relief bill should focus on agriculture | News, Sports, Jobs

MARSHALL — A drought relief package passed by the Minnesota House of Representatives last week included about $10 million in needed financial relief for farmers. But it also included an even larger sum for grants from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources — and that’s the part Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, said he couldn’t support.

Swedzinski was one of 33 state officials who voted against the drought relief bill last week.

“As a farmer, I support drought relief”, Swedzinski said Monday. However, he said he did not support the package giving more money to the DNR than to farmers affected by last year’s drought. “To me, that doesn’t make any sense.”

In a press release Thursday, the Minnesota House said the bill allocates $5 million to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to provide grants to help farmers with drought-related expenses, and $5 million. million for the Rural Finance Authority’s revolving loan account for drought relief.

The Drought Relief Bill also allocated more than $13 million to the DNR, including $5.5 million to replace seedlings of drought-killed trees and $4.5 million for grants to help communities replace shade trees.

The drought relief package passed 101 to 33, with Swedzinski among the “No” voice.

Swedzinski said on Monday that he wanted “send a strong message” to focus on agriculture in a drought relief program. The Minnesota Senate’s drought relief bill was cleaner and more farm-focused, he said.

A $10 million drought relief bill, passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee last week, allocates $6.5 million in subsidies to drought-affected farmers in 2021, and includes $1.5 million to the Rural Finance Authority to repay them drought relief loans they have already processed or are currently on. Processing.

The Senate drought relief bill does not include funding for DNR, but it does include $1 million in appropriations for the University of Minnesota to purchase lab equipment to test for animal diseases like African swine fever and avian influenza. It also includes funding to compensate for lost income for deer ranchers affected by movement bans, and money to be transferred to the state’s agricultural emergency account.

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