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Minnesota Farmers Meet On “Common Ground” This Weekend

November 16, 2007

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota's two top farm groups hold their annual state conventions this weekend, and the item topping both their agendas is the new, five-year Farm Bill under construction in Washington. Doug Peterson with the Minnesota Farmers Union says members will take a stance on subsidies.

"The past Farm Bill had millionaires getting farm payments, and that isn't right. It's too much competition. It's too much money going into the hands of too few farmers."

He says they'll also consider positions on country-of-origin food labels, disaster relief, energy, and the environment. Another issue expected to come up is how best to make the transition from ethanol to the next generation of farm-based fuel products.

"Cellulostic fuels are more efficient in the production of ethanol. That means they use less water, and they use less carbon to produce. It's a bridge to the future -- a future of greater efficiency, a future of less waste of precious resources."

He believes such fuels will produce more energy, protect the environment, and boost the farm economy. While new technologies are being developed, he says support for traditional ethanol production is still needed.

Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap says a key issue on his group's agenda is providing a federal safety net to farmers, as both an importanct and unpredictable occupation.

"Payments are there, in case we need them. If prices are low due to unexpected things, whether they are internationally or weather-related, we've got that safety net, that shock absorber that can help those farmers through difficult prices. We'd rather get our income from the marketplace. If we do, those payments stop."

Featured speakers at the three-day convention in Bloomington include Governor Pawlenty and Senators Coleman and Klobuchar.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN