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Dayton, GOP squabble over vetoed farm issues

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Republicans in charge of the House and Senate agriculture committees are accusing DFL Gov. Mark Dayton of spreading “misinformation” about their omnibus finance bill, which he vetoed Friday along with four other budget bills.

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake; Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck; Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake and Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, sent a letter to Dayton saying they were “disheartened” by the criticisms coming from his office about the compromise bill.

The GOP lawmakers said the administration had falsely claimed that the bill would eliminate a fee imposed on chemical companies for waste pesticide disposal. They also disputed a claim that the bill would allow for the overuse of pesticide.

“This assertion is offensive to farmers and to the agriculture community, and shows your disconnect from the agriculture community by assuming the worst of farmers,” the four chairs wrote.

Ag Finance Letter to Gov Dayton

The provision in question allows farmers to comply with federal pesticide labels rather than stricter state regulations. They say Dayton’s executive order on the matter last year was a case of overreach.

In his veto letter, Dayton said the bill puts the state in conflict with the federal law.

“I will not sign into law any provision that rolls back the Department of Agriculture’s existing pesticide enforcement authority," Dayton wrote.

The agriculture bill is typically the least controversial of the major budget bills. But Dayton and Republicans have several disagreements.

Dayton was already sparring with rural Republican lawmakers over their efforts to delay new buffer strip requirements around farm fields. The governor followed through with his threat to veto any such effort, when he rejected the environment and natural resources bill.

Dayton’s veto letter said policy provisions in the bill would “effectively gut the buffer law and delay it.”

During a press conference Thursday, Dayton reiterated his opposition to a delay.

“If there are real world problems with it, then we’ll come back next session and deal with the real world stuff, but not with all this fear mongering that’s going on by a few people.”

Dayton's other vetoes were the bills for E-12 education, state government and health and human services.