Legislative Agenda

Left to right: Pam Debele, MTRPC board member Lynette Gessell, MTRPC board member Butch Brey, Senator Nick Frentz (DFL - North Mankato).

2024 Legislative Priorities


HPAI remains a top priority for Minnesota turkey farmers. Over the years, growers have made massive strides in improving biosecurity and protecting their flocks. The USDA has found that farm-to-farm transmission rates have declined dramatically as a result. With HPAI in the wild bird populations, it is impossible for growers to avoid the disease 100% of the time.

Recently the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced a temporary Protecting Livestock Grants, also known as Protect Grants. This grant can be used by turkey farmers to help pay for wild bird deterrents such as lasers, sound machines and inflatables. It can also be used to improve biosecurity, build Danish entry systems, add air filtration, etc.

MTGA was a major advocate for the development of this grant program. The next step is to have this grant program become permanent through legislation. A bill has been drafted and has the support of Senator Aric Putnam, Chair of the Senate Ag Committee. We will continue to work with Senator Putnam and other representatives to get this bill passed and establish a more formal livestock protection grant.

Minnesota Board of Animal Health:

The Board of Animal Health (BOH) is vital to the successful response to any foreign animal disease. Through HPAI outbreaks, Minnesota turkey growers have relied on the prompt response from the BOH and their dedicated team. In previous sessions, there have been attempts to modify the size and structure of the BOH.

MTGA will continue to push back against any changes to the BOH as it is the turkey industry’s position that no changes are needed.

Foreign Animal Disease Response:

The fall 2023 HPAI outbreak pushed Minnesota’s turkey growers and the foreign animal disease response teams at the USDA and Board of Animal Health to the limit. With the warmer start to winter, wild bird migrations continued later into the year and extended the time frame that HPAI outbreaks were occurring. This stretched the response teams thin as many of the individuals working on HPAI outbreaks had other duties within their departments, separate from HPAI. Additionally, Minnesota does not have a position that is dedicated to foreign animal disease response. Instead, there is a livestock emergency response team.

MTGA urges lawmakers to establish a position or team dedicated to foreign animal disease response, ensuring timely management of disease outbreaks and limiting the potential spread as much as possible.


Left to right: UMN Poultry Extension Dr. Sally Noll, Kim Halvorson, Rep. Brian Daniels (R - Faribault), Pam Debele.
Workforce Development:

Availability of qualified workers continues to be a chronic issue throughout the poultry industry. This lack of workers cannot be traced toa single cause but is the function of several factors ranging from affordable housing to job training programs and broadband access.

MTGA supports legislation that will improve workforce availability and encourage individuals to enter the poultry industry workforce– both on the farm and in processing. We encourage this legislation to also focus on strengthening rural communities by increasing accessibility to healthcare, daycare, and high-functioning school systems in addition to affordable housing, job training, and broadband. We also support expanded educational opportunities focused on poultry through career and technical programs.

Regulations and Environment:

In every legislative session, there are general agricultural and environmental issues that may be raised. Minnesota farmers, turkey growers and beyond, continue to work to protect the states natural resources and water. Livestock producers adhere to the strict permitting requirements by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. They also follow animal care guidelines that are based in science, account for animal comfort as well as famer safety. Crop farmers actively make efforts to improve farming practices and rely on the University of Minnesota best management practices to                                                                                                                               ensure efficient and effective use of inputs and prevent waste that could negatively impact the                                                                                                                               environment.

                                                                                                                              MTGA will push back against new regulations that would hinder farmers’ ability to farm. Areas of                                                                                                                               interest include but are not limited to are of ag chemical use, seed treatments, spraying                                                                                                                               restrictions, fertilizer applications, drainage and animal care and housing.

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