Ag Bill Sails Through House

The least controversial of a series of state spending bills, one funding agriculture programs, passed 104-20 out of the House Wednesday.

Like many other state agencies, the Agriculture Department budget would be cut 15 percent.

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said that the bill funds some programs more than others. Top priority, he said, is “ensuring the safety of the food supply.”

There are no cuts for either retail food or meatpacking inspections.

Also keeping full funding in the bill is the Crookston-based Agriculture Utilization Research Institute, which helps market ag innovations.

An always-controversial topic, payments to ethanol producers, is ended in this bill with the final payments $15 million promised more than a dozen years ago.

“We are going to be paying that out in full,” Hamilton said.

An item not in the bill was Rep. Dean Urdahl’s perennial proposal that would provide “if you eat too much at a fast food restaurant and get fat, you can’t sue.”

Urdahl, R-Grove City, said he will bring back his proposal.

No fees are increased in the ag bill, Hamilton said.

The House ag bill is similar to one senators already passed and Dayton’s proposals.