Franken talks farming in Albert LeaPublished 10:43am Monday, February 11, 2013
ALBERT LEA — Farmers, residents and local leaders met with Sen. Al Franken Saturday to discuss various agriculture issues during the legislator’s visit to Albert Lea.
Franken discussed the farm bill issue in both Albert Lea and St. Charles Saturday, though the talks also touched on other agriculture issues like conservation and biodiesel. Franken said he enjoyed that other topics came up and said he enjoys speaking with constituents in informal settings.
“The reason I’m here today is to hear from you,” Franken said. “There’s very little that doesn’t impact people in rural areas.”
A group of about 20 people met at 4 p.m. at Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services for the discussion. Franken told the group he wished the farm bill had been passed in the House of Representatives, because it had passed in the Senate last June. As it stands, a temporary extension of the farm bill was passed Jan. 1, and it expires in September. He’s hopeful the House will again discuss the bill and, eventually, a five-year farm bill could be passed.
“There is a different feeling in Washington to me that leads me to believe the House will take it up again,” Franken said.
The senator told the group he feels farming is a national security issue, which is why it’s something he’s concerned about.
“We need people to know how to grow food,” Franken said.
Attendants brought up several issues, including public-versus-private funding for agriculture education, ethanol and conservation land.
Bob Zelenka, executive director of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, said he came from the Twin Cities because he liked the chance to talk with Franken in a small setting. He said that though he and Franken politely disagree on the Conservation Reserve Program that he wanted the chance to discuss the issue more.