The Governor signed the Agriculture Finance Omnibus Bill last Friday and while the press release talks about how it is good for energy and the environment (and some of it is), it neglects to mention that he line-item vetoed two funding items supported by Clean Energy Minnesota (CEM) to encourage better fuel sources for ethanol.
The Governor axed a $1 million allocation that would have created a loan program to purchase equipment for farmers who are growing native, perennial plants for energy or seed.
He also cut out a $350,000 allocation to Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture that would have been for farm-scale research of planting a mixture of prairie or perennial plants for the purposes of energy production. As you likely know, U of M research has demonstrated that planting a variety of prairie plants together dramatically increases the tons of biomass available per acre for energy production (not to mention reduces runoff of pollution into our rivers). Farm-scale research is needed to figure out some of the details and the allocation would have helped Minnesota be positioned to more quickly develop a better system of ethanol. The Govern is paraphrased as saying that there are similar programs currently funded in other spending bills (though so far no one has been able to identify a parallel program in another bill to me).
These line-item vetoes, the only two from the bill, total $1.35 million out of the $170 million total package. There are some good things that received funding (bill text here), but after the disappointing work of the conference committee that removed most of the CEM supported biofuels provisions, these vetoes seem to be one last kick in the pants.