Rep. Poppe: Food program legislation tops ag committee priorities

Published 4:58 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lawmakers recently completed another productive week at our state capitol. I am pleased we are quickly passing legislation that keeps Minnesota’s economy on the right track.

House File 1777, our $500 million package of tax cuts for middle class Minnesotans and small businesses, passed the entire House of Representatives by a near unanimous vote. In addition to repealing three business-to-business taxes including the tax on farm equipment repairs, the bill conforms our state tax code to the federal tax code, which simplifies the filing process and cuts taxes for nearly one million Minnesotans.

I am also proud to report that the House unanimously passed legislation to ensure no child is ever denied a hot lunch at school due to the inability to pay. We took swift action on this bill in response to a report showing that some students were being denied meals and unfairly singled out in front of their classmates with hand stamps visible to all that say “LUNCH” or “MONEY.” More than 60,000 children in Minnesota will benefit from this legislation.

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The House Agriculture Policy Committee continues to make good progress on bills that benefit our family farmers and biofuel producers.

We had unanimous support in the Ag Policy Committee for House File 2538, a bill I authored that provides funding for a farm-to-food shelf program. It appropriates $1.5 million to the Department of Agriculture to distribute to the Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank in grants to compensate farmers for costs incurred when harvesting and transferring surplus crops that would otherwise be discarded or left unused.

HF 2538 has also received a hearing and passed out of the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee. Its next stop will be in the Ways and Means Committee where it will likely be added to a supplemental budget package, eventually paving the way for a vote by the entire House. Expanding the farm-to-food shelf program is a top priority for me and my colleagues on the Agriculture Policy Committee. I am pleased we are close to sending a final bill to Governor Dayton to be signed into law.

Another bill I am authoring (House File 2456) establishes a new capital equipment loan program and two new grant programs designed to expand Minnesota’s biofuel and renewable chemical industries. This legislation builds off of steps we took during the 2013 Session to adopt recommendations from the NextGen Board, such as changing Minnesota’s E10 fuel blending policy from requiring only traditional corn-based ethanol to requiring biofuels generally.

HF 2456 takes a similar approach used in the creation of ethanol producer payments. If you recall, Minnesota originally spent $550 million to help finance corn/ethanol plant construction and startup costs. According to the Department of Agriculture, our ethanol industry is now projected to contribute more than $2 billion in net annual benefits to our state. By providing production incentives for our biofuel and renewable chemical producers, it is my hope that we can generate similar economic growth over the coming years, especially for our communities in rural Minnesota.

As always, please contact me with any questions, concerns or other feedback. You can reach me by phone at 651-296-4193, by email at or by mail at 487 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.