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SENATE AG BILL HIGHLIGHTS By Janet Kubat Willette

jkubat@agrinews.com

ST. PAUL -- The author of the Senate agriculture finance bill says the bill does the best it can.

"I think it's a good bill," said Sen. Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples. "What could improve it is more revenue …; we don't have the revenue to do what we need to for the dairy industry and agriculture in general."

Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, said he's satisfied with the agriculture funding bill, but he didn't vote for it because it was included with several other funding provisions for other agencies.

The Senate passed two large budget bills, including all agency funding and some policy changes in the two bills. The bills passed by party line votes.

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Provisions of the agricultural portion include:

Fees for the testing of scales and weighing equipment must be uniform with those charged by the Department of Commerce Division of Weights and Measures.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2006, only a commercial animal waste technician may apply animal waste from a feedlot with capacity of 300 animal units or more that doesn't have an updated manure management plan.

The commissioner must set and collect fees to recover the costs of services provided.

• The; Rural Finance Authority must implement an on-farm processing loan program. To qualify, the on-farm processing must be located on the farm of the applicant.

Economic development funds shall be made available to dairy producers who want to acquire, construct or improve dairy facilities.

• Grain; license and warehouse operator fees were increased.

An agricultural operation is not and shall not become a nuisance after two years from its established date of operation if it meets a series of requirements. The operation must be located in an agriculturally zoned area, comply with all applicable laws and operate according to generally accepted agricultural practices.

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The bill is HF2028. The agriculture provisions are found in Article 10.

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