Agriculture

Sen. Smith fought for a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee because ag is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy.

All Minnesotans are impacted by the Farm Bill, and Sen. Smith heard from Minnesotans with backgrounds in farming, rural development, rural health, and nutrition to make sure that all voices were reflected in the final 5-year bill that passed in 2018. That legislation included many provisions that Sen. Smith authored and championed, including improvement to the dairy safety-net program, the legislative roadmap for the energy title, and improvement to USDA conservation programs. It also included many provisions that benefit Minnesota’s native communities and new American communities, like permanent funding for beginning and traditionally under-served farmer outreach programs.

Sen. Smith understands that it’s been a very difficult few years for agriculture, and she believes that the federal government should be giving farmers more support. She’s heard from farmers about the high cost of health care, including access to health care providers and access to mental health care resources, which is why Senator Smith championed the creation of the rural health liaison at the USDA as well as funding for local mental health resources and to expand access to stress reduction and suicide prevention programs.

As Chair of the Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade she will advocate for provisions that benefit Minnesota farmers and use the platform to promote the importance of agriculture exports, which account for over 1/3 of Minnesota’s total exports. Additionally, she will push for more open foreign markets and strong crop insurance and commodity programs that help farmers in Minnesota and around the country manage uncertainties in the market.

You can learn more about Senator Smith’s efforts to make economic development in rural America a priority here.

Latest Releases

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan Celebrate First-Ever Trade Mission Focused on Indigenous Products

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan (DFL) announced the first-ever trade mission by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) focused solely on Indigenous products. Lieutenant Governor Flanagan will join Red Lake, Inc. in representing Native producers from Minnesota on this historic trade mission to Canada from June 17-20 alongside 15 Tribal agribusinesses and 13 Native agricultural leaders from across the country. “This is a historic opportunity for Native farmers and producers and Tribal businesses to access a new market for their goods.  Native farmers and producers face unique and challenging barriers, and this market access will make a huge difference,” said Senator Smith. “I pushed hard to get Tribes and Native communities represented on these trade missions. I’m delighted to see such a historic trip finally come to fruition, and it will be a great benefit to not just Red Lake Nation, but the rest of Indian Country as well.” “Native farmers and producers feed our families and the world,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “I am proud to lift up Native agriculture as a standard part of our Minnesota trade missions. I am looking forward to connecting with more Native farmers and producers and showcasing the products that Minnesota has to offer to our global partners. Indian Country has always led in agribusiness and innovation, and I am grateful for Senator Smith’s partnership and work to ensure my community is at the table for these important opportunities and conversations.” “Red Lake, Inc. honored and beyond excited to participate in

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads Senate Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing on Expanding Opportunities for Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade, led a hearing focused on opportunities to support new and emerging farmers. According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, the average age of a producer in the United States is now 58, and in Minnesota it is 57. One of the witnesses who spoke at the hearing about challenges faced by beginning farmers was Tessa Parks, Minnesota native and owner and operator of W.T. Farms in Northfield. Tessa is a young, first-generation farmer of color who, along with her husband, raises Holstein steers and runs a haying service. “The average age of a producer in the United States is 58, and in Minnesota it’s 57. And of course, this number increases every year. That in a nutshell is why we need to invest in the next generation of farmers, so this country’s agriculture production continues to work,” said Senator Smith. “This is a matter of national security, food security, and the strength and vitality of rural America. Agriculture is a driving force in America’s economy.” “Though I am new to farming and several generations removed from the farm, my connection to and love for agriculture is strong,” said Tessa Parks, owner and operator of W.T. Farms in Northfield, MN. “But beginning farmers like me face significant barriers to entry into agriculture, including a farm safety net that favors larger and more established farms, barriers to accessing land and capital, climate change, and

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Chris Murphy Introduce Bill to Forgive Student Loan Debt for Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women, veteran, and minority farmers. Student loan debt is a major hurdle for beginning farmers, and this legislation would incentivize farmers to enter—and stay—in the agricultural industry, and strengthen opportunities to grow successful businesses. The average age of a farmer in the United States is 58 years old. Smith and Murphy’s legislation will reduce barriers for

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces $22.3 Million in USDA Funding Available to Organizations Helping Veterans, Non-traditional Farmers Get into Agriculture

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making up to $22.3 million available to fund efforts that help non-traditional farmers and veterans in Minnesota and across the country get into agriculture. “Too often, Minnesota residents from communities who traditionally have not been involved in agriculture, as well as veterans, find barriers to getting into farming,” said Sen Smith. “The 2501 Program helps to remedy that, and I’m proud to champion its reauthorization in the Senate. These funds are available to groups, organizations, and higher education institutions that want to assist them in getting started.

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Celebrates Red Lake, Inc. Trade Mission to India

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, celebrated that Red Lake Nation’s Red Lake, Inc. will be participating in a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agribusiness trade mission to New Delhi, India at the end of the month. 47 diverse businesses and organizations will join Under Secretary Alexis M. Taylor on the mission, and Red Lake will be the only representative from a Native or Tribal community. “We need to support all farmers—and that includes making sure we’re advocating for Native farmers who may face unique and challenging barriers to successfully owning and operating farms,” said Sen.

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces Clean Energy Projects for Minnesota Farms and Small Businesses 

[MINNEAPOLIS, MN] – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced funding awards for 27 farms and small businesses across rural and Greater Minnesota to install clean energy technology on their farms. This round of funding for Minnesota totals nearly $2 million. This initiative is possible through the more than $144 million in grant funding for underutilized renewable technologies through the Renewable Energy for America (REAP) program, which Senator Smith championed and strengthened in the Inflation Reduction Act.   “The clean energy transition is happening, the question is whether we lead or follow. I want us

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