Senate passes drought relief, animal disease outbreak prevention bill

Minnesota lawmakers have approved legislation to help Minnesota farmers and prepare for future animal disease outbreaks.

Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to provide grants of up to $5,000 to farmers affected by last year’s droughts.

The bill also includes $1 million for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) at the University of Minnesota to purchase equipment to test for avian influenza, African Swine Fever, chronic wasting disease (CWD), and other animal diseases, and allows the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to use $426,000 in its Agricultural Emergency Account to buy poultry drinking water tests. Another $500,000 is to be put toward further animal disease testing and response.

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed its companion bill earlier this month. However, the bills are different, meaning the House will either have to concur with the bill the Senate passed or send them to a conference committee to work out the differences before they head to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk.