Annual Meeting, Day on the Hill and Legislative Update – April ’21

I hope everybody is enjoying the spring weather. In my area, there was a little fieldwork that got done before we received some spring moisture.

I’ll first start out by giving a recap of some of the events IAM has participated in over the last few months.

On February 18th, IAM hosted its annual meeting via zoom. We had a nice turnout and I want to thank everybody who attended. We brought in a few speakers that included, Senator Howe, who is the author of our bill. Rep. Sundin, Chair of the Agriculture
Finance and Policy Committee, and Commissioner Thom Petersen, Department of Ag. We were able to have some good discussion about challenges we face irrigators and also the language in our bill. I would thank those three individuals for joining us.

Next, IAM hosted our annual Day on the Hill via zoom on March 1st. I would like to extend a thank you to our lobbyist for their help in organizing the event. We had a decent turnout of legislators and IAM members and thank you for all of those who attended. It was unfortunate that we only had an hour, because there was a lot of good discussion with legislators about the issues we face as irrigators. We also had some excellent speakers that joined us. Maria Crownhart from Birdseye Foods in Waseca and Jean-Marc Versolato from Bailey’s Nursey did an excellent job describing how irrigation plays such an important role in their respective industries. They provided information about the economics that irrigation brings to their businesses, which I feel is so important for legislators to see.

Right after the day on the hill, IAM’s bill was being heard in the Senate Environment Policy and Legacy Committee and IAM was given the opportunity to testify. The individuals who testified included: Cindy Brown- Chippewa Valley Bean, Jean-Marc Versolato- Baileys Nursey, and Jake Bauerly- IAM member. All three did a fantastic job testifying on behalf of IAM and I would like to thank them again for participating.

Next, I would like to touch on the status of IAM’s bill in both the House and the
Senate. Currently in the Senate, the bill is included in the Senate Environment Policy
bill, which was passed and sent on the Environment Finance Committee. Our bill is
included in the Senate Environment omnibus bill.

The House has been a little bit more of a challenge, but we continue to have discussion with key legislators to make sure the bill keeps moving forward through the legislative process. I know this is a very high level, but if you would like a more detailed
up-to-date summary or have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

One other legislative piece I want to briefly mention is IAM is again planning
a legislative tour for the summer. We are in the beginning stages of organizing the
event, but look for more details in the summer newsletter.

A few more things before I wrap up. The board just got an update from the scholarship committee on where they are at with the scholarship honoring Alan Peterson.
I know the committee has provided more details with a write-up in the newsletter so
I won’t get into too many details, but I encourage you to take a look at that.

As a board, we are still continuing to promote membership and our $.25/acre legislative fund. I would like to thank those who have joined as new members or have renewed their membership. As well as those individuals who have made a contribution to the legislative fund. Your contributions are what allows IAM to participate in events that I discussed earlier, so thank you again for that. IAM will be sending out another mailing this summer
for you to renew your membership and/ or contribute to the legislative fund, so if
you haven’t I encourage you to and please keep an eye out for that mailing.

Lastly, IAM has recently launched a new website! The url is mnirrigators.org. Anna Bregier worked with Keith Olander and his staff at Central Lakes College and did a fantastic job putting it all together. I would like to thank them for all of the work they did. Please check it out and provide us with any feedback you may have.

Thank you again for all of your support of IAM. As always, we will continue to tackle the issues you face and advocate for you as irrigators in Minnesota. Everybody have a great spring and be safe!

Jake Wildman, IAM-President

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