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Hamilton writes bill to support ag programs

ST. PAUL -- District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, has co-authored a bill to create special Minnesota license plates to help fund agricultural programs.

ST. PAUL - District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, has co-authored a bill to create special Minnesota license plates to help fund agricultural programs.

The bill HF221 was first introduced to the House on Jan. 22. Since then, it has been approved by the Ways and Means Committee and by the Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division, both of which Hamilton is a member. The bill has received bipartisan support.

The Transportation Finance and Policy Division approved the bill at a hearing Tuesday and re-referred it back to Ways and Means.

HF221 proposes to offer a special license plate to people registering Minnesota vehicles. It would have a unique design relating to agriculture, submitted by FFA and 4-H students, and cost an additional $10 over a standard set of license plates.

The additional funds collected from sales of this license plate would be distributed to the Minnesota FFA Foundation and the University of Minnesota Extension Service for Minnesota 4-H activities and programs.

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About 30 FFA members attended the Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division hearing about HF221. Two of them, Nicole Kiziolek of the Randolph FFA chapter and Jeremy Soine of the Cannon Falls FFA chapter, testified to House members that these agriculture programs have equipped them to become leaders in the industry.

Minnesota FFA Foundation Executive Director Val Aarsvold also spoke in support of the bill. She stated that Minnesota has about 11,000 FFA members and about 16,000 4-H members who would benefit from the funding. She added that when the agriculture license plates were last approved in 2016, more than 665,000 Minnesotans purchased them.

Aarsvold said the bill is “a voluntary way for Minnesotans to show their support” for youth agricultural programs.

“We would like to invest in agriculture’s bright future,” she added.

Hamilton praised Minnesota’s FFA students as “the best and the brightest that this state has to offer.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, a number of current University of Minnesota students who are alumni of FFA, 4-H or both testified on behalf of the bill.

Bailey Ruin, a former participant in both FFA and 4-H, cited a prediction that by 2050, the world’s population will be greater than 9 billion. She feels that by investing in youth agricultural programs, the state of Minnesota will be preparing youths to feed the world’s growing population.

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