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HF 179

as introduced - 89th Legislature (2015 - 2016) Posted on 06/21/2017 11:01am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language. underscored = added, new language.

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Current Version - as introduced

A bill for an act
relating to sustainable agriculture; modifying certain programs and grants;
amending Minnesota Statutes 2014, sections 17.115, subdivisions 2, 3; 17.116.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 17.115, subdivision 2, is amended to read:


Subd. 2.

Loan criteria.

(a) The shared savings loan program must may provide
loans for purchase of new or used machinery, urban agriculture development in cities with
populations greater than 60,000 people,
and installation of equipment for projects that
make environmental improvements and enhance farm profitability. Eligible loan uses do
not include seed, fertilizer, or fuel.

(b) Loans may not exceed $40,000 per individual or organization applying for a loan
and may not exceed $160,000 for loans to four or more individuals or to two or more
organizations
on joint projects. The loan repayment period may be up to seven years as
determined by project cost and energy savings. The interest rate on the loans must not
exceed six percent.

(c) Loans may only be made to residents and organizations of this state engaged in
farming.

Sec. 2.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 17.115, subdivision 3, is amended to read:


Subd. 3.

Awarding of loans.

(a) Applications for loans must be made to the
commissioner on forms prescribed by the commissioner.

(b) The applications must be reviewed, ranked, and recommended by a loan review
panel appointed by the commissioner. The loan review panel shall consist of two
lenders with agricultural experience, two resident farmers of the state using sustainable
agriculture methods, two resident farmers of the state using organic agriculture methods,
a farm management specialist, two residents of the state practicing urban agriculture, a
representative from a postsecondary education institution, and a chair from the department.

(c) The loan review panel shall rank applications according to the following criteria:

(1) realize savings to the cost of agricultural production;

(2) reduce or make more efficient use of energy or inputs;

(3) increase overall farm profitability; and

(4) result in environmental benefits.

(d) A loan application must show that the loan can be repaid by the applicant.

(e) The commissioner must consider the recommendations of the loan review panel
and may make loans for eligible projects.

Sec. 3.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 17.116, is amended to read:


17.116 SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE DEMONSTRATION GRANTS.

Subdivision 1.

Establishment.

The commissioner shall establish a grant program
for sustainable agriculture methods that demonstrates best management practices,
including farm input reduction or management, urban agriculture development in cities
with populations greater than 60,000 people,
enterprise diversification including new crops
and livestock, farm energy efficiency or production, or the transfer of technologies that
enhance the environment and farm profitability. The commissioner shall use the program
to demonstrate and publicize the energy efficiency, environmental benefit, and profitability
of sustainable agriculture techniques or systems from production through marketing,
and to assist eligible organizations and individuals in qualifying urban cities address
fresh food access including access to affordable organic foods to reduce food deserts, as
defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, through the development of urban
agriculture projects
. The grants must fund research or demonstrations on farms consistent
with the program objectives.

Subd. 2.

Eligibility.

(a) Grants may only be made to farmers, educational institutions,
individuals at educational institutions, or nonprofit organizations residing or located in the
state for research or demonstrations on farms in the state or organizations and individuals
in qualifying urban cities that address fresh food access including access to affordable
organic foods to reduce food deserts through the development of urban agriculture projects
.

(b) Grants may only be made for projects that show:

(1) for projects that demonstrate:

(i) the ability to maximize direct or indirect energy savings or production;

(2) (ii) a positive effect or reduced adverse effect on the environment; and

(3) (iii) increased profitability for the individual farm by reducing costs or improving
marketing opportunities. ; or

(2) for projects that address fresh food access including access to affordable organic
foods to reduce food deserts through the development of urban agriculture projects.

Subd. 3.

Awarding of grants.

(a) Applications for grants must be made to the
commissioner on forms prescribed by the commissioner.

(b) The applications must be reviewed, ranked, and recommended by a technical
review panel appointed by the commissioner. The technical review panel shall consist of a
soil scientist, an agronomist, a representative from a postsecondary educational institution,
an agricultural marketing specialist, two resident farmers of the state using sustainable
agriculture methods, two resident farmers of the state using organic agriculture methods,
two residents of the state practicing urban agriculture, and a chair from the department.

(c) The technical review panel shall rank applications according to the following
criteria:

(1) direct or indirect energy savings or production;

(2) environmental benefit;

(3) farm profitability;

(4) the number of farms able to apply the techniques or the technology proposed;

(5) the effectiveness of the project as a demonstration;

(6) the immediate transferability of the project to farms; and

(7) the ability of the project to accomplish its goals. ;

(8) the ability to address fresh food access including access to affordable organic
foods to improve both local and regional food security through the development of urban
agriculture projects; and

(9) the ability to address health disparities related to food access.

(d) The commissioner shall consider the recommendations of the technical review
panel and may award grants for eligible projects. Priority must be given to applicants who
are farmers or groups of farmers.

(e) Grants for eligible projects may not exceed $25,000 unless the portion above
$25,000 is matched on an equal basis by the applicant's cash or in-kind land use
contribution. Grant funding of projects may not exceed $50,000 under this section, but
applicants may utilize other funding sources. A portion of each grant must be targeted for
public information activities of the project.

(f) A project may continue for up to three years. Multiyear projects must be
reevaluated by the technical review panel and the commissioner before second or third
year funding is approved. A project is limited to one grant for its funding.

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