#1 The urban – rural divide can be bridged. The surprising success of the farm home exemption bill showed us that. Only a few were against it in the Senate and it garnered over 70 yeas in the House. To me, it was a favorable vote from our urban brothers and sisters that bodes well for agriculture. There are fewer and fewer strictly rural districts in our state with that trend to continue with redistricting coming again in a couple of years.
#2 The ND Agriculture Department does a lot and now it is doing more. This session the Agricultural Products Utilization Commission was transferred from the Commerce Department to its old home, the Ag Department. Some felt it had languished and been cut too much the last couple of sessions. Joining the Ag Department is a program which had always been under the purview of the Public Service Commission, the licensing and inspection of grain warehouses and grain buyers.
#3 NDSU Research and Extension is finally not being cut as it had been in 2015 and 2017. They suffered larger cuts than most back then and some restoration is welcoming to the main station and the extension stations. Employees have been loyal but not had a raise for quite a while. SBARE and others worked to make sure legislators realized that our state returns around $37 for every buck spent on research.
#4 Our rural roads and bridges caught a break in a couple of ways, one being the restoration of state cost share for snagging and clearing projects after it was taken away from the Water Resource Districts and cities last session. This helps ensure the infrastructure needed by our growers to move their crops and equipment safely. Another was that townships will be receiving $5,000 each.
#5 it seemed a positive session for agriculture with many more issues addressed than this space allows. Not all were happy, but that is usually the result when lawmakers have to balance the interests of all. It is called compromise and like it or not, that is the way our democratic republic is set up to work.