ST. PAUL  (AP) - Minnesota lawmakers have approved changes to a state program meant to hold down property taxes in rural Minnesota.

The Senate approved the changes Thursday on a bipartisan vote of 45-15. The House passed the bill with similar support earlier this week and the bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Mark Dayton.

Critics of changes made to the program in 2008 say it was forcing farmers to choose either higher taxes or to put some of their land in conservation programs.

The bill passed Thursday allows land removed from the program after 2008 to be reinstated at the request of owners, requires the state commissioner of revenue to consider alternate methods for valuing property in the program, and extends the 2011 enrollment deadline from May 1 to August 1.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)