Senate approves bill to provide for ag fund

Senate approves bill to provide for ag fund by Jaimi Reimer The value-added agriculture fund is one step closer to becoming law.

The Senate unanimously passed SB5 on Feb. 1. This bill establishes a value-added ag fund and provides for the funding and allocation of the monies.

The value-added ag fund will be as a sub-fund for the revolving economic development and initiative fund. It will take $3 million from the REDI fund to use for ag development, marketing and feasibility studies. The bill would also take three cents from the 18-cent fuel refund for off-road travel and deposit it into the value-added ag fund.

Prime sponsor of the bill, Sen. Robert Benson, R-Clearfield, said the money for feasibility studies and marketing plans would likely be in a grant form. He also said the money would be given in a step-by-step process so the money �won�t be squandered away.�

The Board of Economic Development, the body that administers the REDI fund, will oversee the value-added sub-fund.

�They already have financial experts on board,� said Benson. Utilizing the REDI fund will also eliminate the 10 percent originally set aside from the fund for administrative fees.

SB5 now moves to the House for consideration.�

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