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May 6th Urban Agriculture Legislation Update

May 6, 2016

From Rep.  Karen Clark
Subject: update re urban ag to share with your networks

Greetings urban farmers and allies! I write to give you an update on our Urban Ag legislation and ask your assistance.  As last reported, we did not receive any funding for our bill (HF 3324/SF3310) in either the MN House or Senate so far. However that can change now, if calls are made MONDAY AND TUESDAY:   

1) We now know which legislators are appointed to be on the final powerful "appropriations conference committee."  This group of 10 legislators ( 5 from the House and 5 from the Senate) will be deciding the final fate of hundreds of bills from each body that have been lumped together and is that big Conference Committee bill is now called HF 2749.
2) I suggest we contact each of these House and Senate "conferees" to urge they include funding for the specific pilot project language we so carefully crafted together in our Urban Ag bill H.F. 3324 (Clark)/ S.F. 3310 (Hayden).  (See conferees listed at the end)
3) Talking Points for inclusion of Urban Agriculture bill:    

a) It is important that the framework and entire list of criteria we set for this competitive pilot program be honored and
b) that it maintains the provision for at least 50% of the funding to go to low-income communities of colors and Native American Indian
    communities throughout Minnesota.
c) Recall that our bill was a strong racial equity bill that addressed racial disparities with those provisions and
d) that it did pass both the House Agriculture Policy and Finance Committees and the Senate Agriculture Policy Committee this
    2016 legislative session.
e) This urban ag bill creates jobs and economic development throughout the state while growing food access, food justice.
    This bill encourages living wage jobs for farmers who actually grow the food!  (not just the retailers who sell it)
3) The specific amount of funding for this Urban Agriculture pilot project will be based on whatever the entire target of funding is set for this Conference Committee. That entire target has not yet been determined, but should be soon next week.

4) I suggest we aim for the specific funding for Urban Agriculture to be what passed the House last year: $3 million.

Talking points for funding
a) recall that the $3 million number comes from a clear precedent that was passed last year in the MN House Urban Ag bill before we
    went into Special Session.
b) $3 million and is not unreasonable for a state-wide pilot project bill that will fund cities as small as 10,000 and therefore has wide
    geographical distribution without naming any specific project.
 c) Remind the conferees that the Commissioner of Agriculture decides the grantees based on a clearly spelled out competitive
d)  Inform the conferees that this urban agriculture bill was created as a result of last session's mandate to the Commissioner of
     Agriculture to hold statewide stakeholder meetings, which he did and which this bill faithfully represents.

5) I am working to arrange a meeting with the Commissioner of Agriculture, Dave Fredrickson who agreed to meet with us after I discontinued my amendment strategy in the House to provide funding for this Urban Agriculture bill from an existing Agriculture fund last week ( from the Ag fund called AGRI [Agriculture Growth and Research Innovation])). He insists on new funding and I totally agree that is a better strategy that, while it was not available in the House it may now be available to us now in the Conference Cmte. (There was no new funding in the entire Ag bill in the House but there is new funding to draw from in the Senate-- possibly in the equity list or elsewhere.)
If you want to be part of this meeting, please let me know, and I will try to arrange it. I hope to set this meeting early next week.

Thanks for all your great grassroots work and leadership. Just a little over two weeks more to go in this legislative session, soplease make those calls to legislators ASAP , hopefully today or Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. Please tell them briefly why urban agriculture is important to you and your community. I also encourage you to call Governor Dayton's office to also let him know Urban Agriculture is a priority you'd like him to support in these final negotiations.

Many thanks! PLEASE send this on to your email and other lists of friends and allies.Though we don't have the paid lobbyists, we do have a fabulous and growing urban ag grass-roots community.

Karen Clark, State Rep. & WEI volunteer

List of House Conference Cmte Conferees to call, or email or message:
Representatives Knoblach, Loon, Garofalo, Dean,M;  McNamara
List of Senate Conference Cmte Conferees to call or email or message:
Cohen, Wiger, Lourey, Saxhaug, Fischbach
Governor Dayton's office:  651.201.3400