County delegates produce new resolutions for 2012

These directives will be presented for approval at MCGA annual meeting

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

As a grassroots farmer organization, Minnesota Corn Growers Association undertook one of its most vital functions at the recent Pre-resolutions meeting in Morton, where 66 delegates representing 27 local corn grower organizations gathered to craft language to express the direction MCGA will take in the coming year on the issues that impact farmers the most.

Resolutions ranged in topic from mundane details of the tax code, to the cutting edge of research based on the genetic code of corn.

The resolutions accepted by the group will be presented for a vote by all delegates to the MCGA Annual meeting which takes place in mid-January, during MN Ag EXPO. There is a change of venue for EXPO this year. The annual meeting, educational sessions and trade show will take place Monday and Tuesday, January 23 and 24, at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.

A number of resolutions recognize the fact that change is coming to government ethanol programs, both on the national and state levels. Funding programs are sunsetting, and the farmer delegates responded by creating resolutions to encourage the US Congress and Minnesota Legislature to consider reinvesting those funds into other means of supporting alternative energy, or other important means for assuring the prosperity of farmers and rural communities. One resolution called for the federal government to move E85 into the same tax program with alternative fuels based on propane and hydrogen, which both receive a 50 cent per gallon tax credit. With the sunset of Minnesota’s Small Ethanol Producer credit, another MCGA resolution urges the state to consider keeping those funds rural in focus.

Land acquisitions by state and local government units raised concerns among county groups this year. Delegates proposed resolutions that require government to have a management plan that includes dedicated funds whenever it acquires land, and further that fund be provided to offset losses to local tax base when private land is made public. Another resolution proposed that land acquisitions financed by Legacy State Sales Tax funds be limited to no net gain, to assure the government will not become an unwieldy competitor in the land market, which is already seeing major price spikes.

Another resolution focuses on rationalizing the state/federal approach to wetlands by creating wetlands mitigation banking that focuses on agricultural land use, making it easier for farmers to develop sensible plans for using their land while maintaining the net acreage and quality of wetlands in the state.

Looking closely into state tax code, one resolution proposed reinstatement of the state homestead tax credit for farm production land and farm sites. The resolution spotlights the bind this may place some counties in, of having to choose to raise other property taxes or cut services.

Science and research are seen as a fundamental ingredient to continued farmer prosperity, and so a resolution focused on corn genomics. Now that the genome map has been completed, MCGA should advocate for publicly-funded research based on genomics and phenotypic data, to improve the agronomic performance of the corn plant.

In applied science that comes even closer to the farm, a resolution notes the rise of certain technologies that may interfere with global positioning satellite data. Given the growing reliance on GPS data in order to operate machinery and deliver inputs with greater and greater precision, the resolution calls for opposition to such technologies that interfere with GPS.

These and other new resolutions will be voted on, and those approved will be added to the MCGA policy book. Those resolutions of a national character will be brought forward to the National Corn Growers Association policy and priority meeting in January, and receive full consideration by the national delegates in early March at the Commodity Classic agricultural conference and trade show.

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