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Minnesota Agri-Growth Council Supports Recommendations of Livestock Advisory Task Force

by 5m Editor
9 July 2004, at 12:00am

MINNESOTA - Recognizing the urgent need for action to enhance the competitiveness of Minnesota's livestock industry, the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council today endorsed the recommendations included in "Minnesota's Animal Agriculture Industry Report," released by Governor Pawlenty's Livestock Advisory Task Force (LTF).

The Task Force Report outlined specific recommendations in five areas that are designed to preserve the economic vitality of the livestock industry in Minnesota.

"We applaud Governor Pawlenty and the members of the Task Force for their leadership and hard work on this important issue," said Daryn McBeth, Executive Director of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council. "Livestock is a multi-billion dollar contributor to Minnesota's economy -- in 2001 contributing more than $10 billion in direct and indirect economic activity and providing nearly 100,000 jobs. But the future of livestock in Minnesota is in jeopardy, particularly in the dairy sector."

The Task Force was formed by Governor Pawlenty in November 2003 to evaluate the status of Minnesota's livestock industry and to make recommendations to support its growth. The Report highlighted five key areas for improvement and offered recommendations that include:

  • Local siting. The lack of uniformity between local jurisdictions in the siting process for livestock operations impedes new investments in livestock production. The LTF recommends that the existing Task Force continue to work, along with a new sub-group that includes the Minnesota Association of Townships, the Association of Minnesota Counties and legislators to focus on local siting and zoning issues.

  • Permitting and environmental review. Minnesota's permitting process is perceived by farmers as more difficult than in other states -- it lacks timeliness, transparency and predictability. The LTF recommends extensive review by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Environment Quality Board to make the review processes less burdensome and intimidating for farmers.

  • Access to capital. The lack of reinvestment and access to adequate financing opportunities prevents farmers from building modern operations or making needed investments to improve existing operations. The LTF recommends legislative consideration of initiatives that will provide tax and financial incentives to farmers and that existing loan and grant programs be evaluated for improvement.

  • Research, technology and productivity. Because animal agriculture is a knowledge-based sector, there needs to be focused investments in research and research facilities to match improvements already occurring in other states. The LTF recommends that resources be directed and supported for Minnesota's higher education institutions to work with stakeholders on an action plan.

  • Preservation of investment. Farmers looking to invest or reinvest in an operation need freedom from "nuisance" lawsuits so they can have the assurance that their investment will be protected. The LTF supports legislation that will strengthen Minnesota's-Right-to-Farm Law.

"We need to take action, using a balanced approach to encourage livestock operations of all sizes," added McBeth. "This report is an important first step toward reinvesting in an industry that's critically important to Minnesota. We look forward to partnering cooperatively with state and local interests to move forward and act on these critical recommendations that will improve Minnesota's competitiveness in animal agriculture."

Factors are emerging that raise concerns about the beef, pork and poultry sectors. By 2010, excess swine processing capacity will result in unused capacity -- the equivalent of $2.85 million in value-added loses per day. Minnesota's turkey production and processing expanded rapidly in the mid 1990s, but trends show a significantly slowed rate of increase through 2010.

Minnesota markets more than five times the number of cattle per year than the number slaughtered (only 155,000 head). In 2010 "lost marketings" could grow to $1.3 billion in missed value-added processing. There are other signs of declines in the industry. Minnesota's economy will face $2.85 billion per year in lost opportunities from pork, beef, and dairy value-added processing by 2010. Crops fed to livestock in Minnesota will be reduced in value by $338 million per year by 2010. Minnesota Cannot Afford to Sit on the Sidelines -- We Must Act to Make the Livestock Industry Competitive.

Further Information

To view Minnesota’s Animal Agriculture Industry Report please click here

Source: PRNewswire - 9th July 2004

5m Editor