Also invests in farmer mental health, manufactured housing, and home ownership
Co-authored by Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), the Minnesota Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan comprehensive agriculture, rural development, and affordable housing budget bill. A component of the overall bipartisan state budget agreement between the Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor Walz, the budget legislation places an emphasis on rural broadband expansion, invests in affordable manufactured housing and home ownership, prioritizes value-added agriculture opportunities that directly impact farmers, and increases resources for farmer mental health services.
“This bill prioritizes Minnesota farmers in the fields, not the growth of government in St. Paul,” said Senator Draheim, who served on the bipartisan conference committee responsible for crafting the legislation. “Plagued by historically low commodity prices, farmers continue to struggle to make ends meet. This budget invests in programs that aim to expand markets and improve the bottom lines of Minnesota farmers, while also expanding mental health resources for farm families.”
Specifically, the bill includes a $5 million one-time investment in an innovative soybean processing and research facility near the University of Minnesota – Crookston that looks to increase profitability for soybean farmers. Additionally, the legislation makes a $5 million one-time investment in the Dairy Assistance Investment Relief Initiative (DAIRI) to provide financial aid to dairy farmers facing historically low milk prices.
Further, the bill funds the Minnesota Border-to-Border Rural Broadband expansion program at $40 million over the next two years, a significant increase in the legislature’s appropriation over the last biennium.
“This program leverages private investment to develop our broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of Minnesota,” added Senator Draheim. “Broadband expansion benefits everyone in our state. Students benefit, medical patients benefit, businesses benefit, and Greater Minnesota families benefit.”
Additionally, the budget legislation prioritizes the most affordable forms of housing in Minnesota and places an emphasis on workforce housing and home ownership. Also, the bill includes reforms ensuring effective allocation of housing resources according to their purpose as outlined by the legislature. Lastly, the bill makes a significant investment in homeless prevention programs, such as the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP), Homework Starts with Home, which provides assistance to Minnesota families with school-aged children, and the Bridges program that helps adults struggling with mental illness maintain affordable housing.
“Greater Minnesota needs more affordable workforce housing,” concluded Draheim, who served as a member of the bipartisan Governor’s Taskforce on Affordable Housing. “Locally, I hear from employers and individuals alike who consistently face a shortage of affordable housing options. This not only prevents local businesses from attracting qualified employees, but also puts hardworking families in financially difficult situations. While not a one-size-fits-all solution, this begins to tackle Minnesota’s housing crisis.”
After passing the Senate, the bill also overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and now heads to Governor Walz for his signature.