Congressional candidates debate ag issues

GILFILLAN ESTATES – A dozen congressional candidates from five districts discussed agriculture related issues Wednesday in the Farmfest Forum building.

They agreed on most issues including holding Japan and Canada accountable to open, free trade standards before any U.S. trading agreements were approved.

“We need to expand markets. If we don’t, our farmers suffer,” said First District Republican candidate Jim Hagedorn.

First District Congressman Tim Walz-D, said the Keystone Pipeline needs to be built or it’s part of the energy bottleneck, along with a railcar shortage that’s costing producers and causing them to hold on to last year’s crop.

Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson, a Democrat, said he supported the building of all pipelines, but said he sees no short-term solution to the propane shipping bottleneck.

Second District Democratic challenger Mike Obermueller said the piece that needs to be done is putting more teeth into the STB (Surface Transportation Board) so producers aren’t stuck with old crops.

Hagedorn blamed Obamacare and federal cap- and-trade policies for driving up costs. “We need to go back to what works – market-driven, free enterprise,” he said.

First District Republican challenger Aaron Miller said the Farm Bill should be done in a more timely manner so farmers can plan for it.

Peterson said politicians from places where there are no farmers are less interest in them. kept voting against it until enough bi-partisan votes were received to over-ride presidential vetoes, which has happened many times over the past few decades.

Regarding the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and its power to control water issues, Peterson said Congress just passed a bill to limit its regulatory authority on water.

Miller said the EPA stands for “ending productive agriculture. … Farmers drink their own well water,” Miller added. “Put the control of water regulations back in the hands of elected officials, not the EPA.”

“We need to get rid of the federal government’s power to regulate out here, and bring it back home,” Hagedorn said. “The federal government’s power can’t be tweaked.”

Thursday forum events include DTN Grain Marketing and an Ag Weather Update at 9 a.m., a 10:30 a.m. panel discussion on climate change and it’s impact on future production agriculture practices, a 4-H Livestock Scholarship Auction at 11:50 a.m., comments by Gov. Mark Dayton at 1:15 p.m. and the Farm Family Recognition Program at 1:30 p.m.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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