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Federal Encouragement For MN Farmers a Welcome Message

March 11, 2009

St. Paul - They're down with the farm on Capitol Hill. Farming advocates from Minnesota are returning home after a two-day national convention in Washington, D.C, with some optimism for the future of agriculture. Minnesota Farmer's Union president Doug Peterson says he was encouraged to hear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi express her confidence in the country's farmers.

"We are not going to get into the situation where we're dependent on foreign countries for our food. We can't afford that. Just having her say that makes me feel better that there are people in Washington who understand the ongoing issues in farm country and rural communities."

Pelosi was among several government leaders to address the convention. Newly-appointed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also spoke to the group.

Peterson says one topic highlighted at the conference is the importance of creating a food supply that consumers can rely on. He says inspections and other measures can help prevent food-borne illnesses.

"We need to have a national security policy that guarantees the food supply, that it won't be interrupted. The food supply has to be abundant, it has to be safe, it has to be affordable."

The Farmers Union convention also elected a new national president. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson will lead the organization, which has more than a quarter-million 250-thousand members across the country.

Art Hughes, Public News Service - MN