As a farmer and rural Minnesotan watching a new farm crisis unfold, I believe we need bold public policies and real investment of state funds if we want thriving rural communities and a strong resilient food and farming system. We need our state leaders to champion the programs that provide economic opportunity for farmers as well as for the common good of all Minnesotans.

Right now, our state leaders have an opportunity to invest in a program that meets some of agriculture's greatest needs. The Forever Green Initiative, a program at the University of Minnesota, is developing new crops for farmers to grow and market, crops that build soil health and keep our waters clean. These crops are already being grown and marketed in Minnesota and being added into corn and soybean rotations and purchased by businesses and restaurants, such as the Birchwood Café, PepsiCo and General Mills.

As effective as this program has been, it cannot be as effective as possible, scale up as quickly, or build the wealth of our soil and our farms without more investment from the state of Minnesota.

Join me in supporting legislation at the State Capitol that fully funds this critical program, (House File 962 and Senate File 134) by contacting our senator, who chairs the Agriculture Finance Committee. Call Sen. Torrey Westrom today at 651-296-3826 and ask him to include funding for this program in his Omnibus Agriculture Finance bill.

Bryan Simon is a farmer and a Land Stewardship Project member from Barrett, Minn.