Sen. Klobuchar’s staff discuss farm bill with area farmersPublished 11:40am Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Area agriculture workers from all backgrounds share an opinion about the 2012 farm bill: the public’s perception on it needs work.
“They don’t realize how much of the farm bill is food and nutrition,” one attendee said. “They see a price tag and get nervous.”
Half a dozen people came to the Austin Public Library to voice their opinions Tuesday morning during a discussion about the 2012 farm bill put on by the staff of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Questions also rose as to whether the farm bill fit a livestock model as well as it did crops. Participants agreed that the bill has to be tailored to fit all forms, and useful to everyone. The majority of attendees grew soybeans or corn.
“It’s hard for us to support the program as it is now,” said a representative from the Minnesota Milk Producers Association.
Adam Durand, a legislative assistant to Klobuchar who specializes in agriculture and rural issues, agreed.
“Dairy is definitely one of the bigger question marks,” Durand said.
The meeting began with a recorded introduction video from Amy Klobuchar, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The committee is responsible for writing the farm bill legislation.
“Now more than ever we need smart policies,” Klobuchar said on the video.
Her video featured a call for stronger farm safety nets, which would help farmers both against natural disasters and market failures. “Minnesota’s farmers need to know their livelihoods won’t be swept away in the blink of an eye,” she said, adding that we cannot balance the budget on their backs.
There also needs to be a focus on conservation efforts, Klobuchar said. The bill has to cut government regulation and limit the amount of red tape on farmers.
Previously, Klobuchar worked with Collin Peterson, House Agriculture Committee chairman, to pass the 2008 farm bill.
Klobuchar’s staff’s visit to Minnesota marks the second in nine consecutive meetings along southern and western Minnesota.