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Budget for One Minnesota Focuses on Ag Trade, Rural Mental Health Resources

February 21, 2019

MDA New Vert logo '2017

The
Budget for One Minnesota announced by Governor Walz this week focuses, in part,
on agricultural trade and rural mental health resources for Minnesota farm
families. The biennial budget provides funding to the Minnesota Department of
Agriculture (MDA) to expand its market development programs and to continue
support for the Farm and Rural Helpline.

The
Walz budget includes funding for the following MDA programs and initiatives:

Invests
in Emerging Industrial Hemp Industry

The
state’s continued investment would ensure that Minnesota farmers and businesses
can grow, process, and market industrial hemp. The 2018 Federal Farm Bill
permitted the production of hemp across the United States. This funding allows
the MDA to follow through on federal licensing and testing requirements, and
assist growers as they enter this emerging crop industry.

Battles
Invasive and Noxious Weeds

Palmer
amaranth is just one of many examples of destructive weeds that threaten the
state. Investment in the MDA’s Noxious Weed Program would support grants that
enable local governments to battle noxious weeds, and the funding would provide
needed resources to manage or eradicate those weeds, like Palmer amaranth, that
have already found their way into Minnesota.

Prepares
for Agricultural Emergencies

In
2015, Minnesota’s poultry industry was devastated by an outbreak of avian
influenza. This budget will restore funding to the state’s Agricultural
Emergency Account and support work at the MDA and Board of Animal Health to
train and prepare for the next disease or invasive species.

Increases
Rural Counseling and Advocate Services

Minnesota
currently has only one rural mental health specialist to provide confidential,
one-on-one counseling tailored to farmers and their unique concerns. The budget
provides funding to add another licensed counselor. It would also enable the
MDA to add two Farm Advocates to the current team of 10, who provide help
Minnesota farmers facing a crisis caused by either a natural disaster or
financial problems.

Supports
the 24-hour Farm and Rural Helpline

The Budget for One Minnesota provides continued funding for the Farm and Rural Helpline, a 24-hour hotline (1-833-600-2670) that connects farmers and other rural residents in distress with a counselor or other resources.

Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture

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