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Walz signs agriculture bill with $18.4M in drought relief

May 26, 2022 GMT
Clouds float over the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday, May 23, 2022, hours after the divided Minnesota Legislature blew a deadline for passing a package of tax cuts and new spending using the state's massive budget surplus, leaving the next steps uncertain for lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)
Clouds float over the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday, May 23, 2022, hours after the divided Minnesota Legislature blew a deadline for passing a package of tax cuts and new spending using the state's massive budget surplus, leaving the next steps uncertain for lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)
Clouds float over the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday, May 23, 2022, hours after the divided Minnesota Legislature blew a deadline for passing a package of tax cuts and new spending using the state's massive budget surplus, leaving the next steps uncertain for lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)
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Clouds float over the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday, May 23, 2022, hours after the divided Minnesota Legislature blew a deadline for passing a package of tax cuts and new spending using the state's massive budget surplus, leaving the next steps uncertain for lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)
1 of 2
Clouds float over the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday, May 23, 2022, hours after the divided Minnesota Legislature blew a deadline for passing a package of tax cuts and new spending using the state's massive budget surplus, leaving the next steps uncertain for lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz signed an agriculture funding bill Thursday that includes drought relief for farmers, investments in rural broadband and support for beginning farmers.

The Legislature passed the bill Sunday in the closing hours of the 2022 legislative session.

Minnesota farmers have been struggling this spring with wet ground that has delayed planting, but the bill includes $18.4 million in relief for losses caused by last year’s drought. That includes $13.1 million for affected farmers, plus $5 million for the Department of Natural Resources to replace drought-killed seedlings and support reforestation.

The bill also includes $1.5 million for an emergency account to support animal disease preparedness and response, as well as $1 million to the University of Minnesota to purchase equipment to test for animal diseases. It also provides $2 million to assist beginning farmers, including those from underrepresented communities.

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And the bill includes over $200 million to support further broadband development in rural Minnesota.

“As farmers grapple with extreme weather, costs of modernization, and unforeseen events like avian influenza, this bipartisan bill helps to address some of the most urgent issues facing our agricultural producers,” Walz said in a statement.