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Minnesota Farmers Union to Debate EPA's Water Rules, TPP

The Minnesota Farmers Union will be debating how several national policies will affect local food producers this weekend. Credit: Jackske/Morguefile.com
The Minnesota Farmers Union will be debating how several national policies will affect local food producers this weekend. Credit: Jackske/Morguefile.com
November 18, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Some big topics are slated to come up at this year's Minnesota Farmers Union's state convention. The group is holding its yearly meeting Saturday and Sunday to discuss several issues before sending delegates to the national convention next year.

For one, they will be debating the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's recently suspended Waters of the U.S. Act, known as WOTUS.

Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota's Farmers Union, is hoping the federal government makes changes to the EPA rule, because he claims it would be redundant for Minnesota farmers.

"Minnesota has their own clean-water rule, called WCA, which is actually more severe the EPA ruling. So, we would be adding a lot of complication and overlapping," says Peterson.

Last month, a federal court suspended the WOTUS act saying it may go too far in extending the federal government's control of certain bodies of water. President Obama, however, has praised the rules saying they will help hold polluters accountable.

Farmers Union members also will be talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which soon could become law. Peterson says if that does happen, the massive 12-nation trade deal could end up doing more to help large multinational corporations than the Minnesotans who work the land.

"There's been way too many giveaway provisions that have allowed other countries to market to us, because we're the mother of all markets, the United States is," he says. "Without enough protections for family farmers, ranchers in this country."

Peterson specifically points to what is called a "snapback" provision, which he says would allow a country such as Japan to raise tariffs on imported American beef. That is something he believes could hurt Minnesota ranchers.

The Minnesota Farmers Union's 74th state convention kicks off Saturday in Minneapolis, and it is open to the public.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN