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Minnesota Farmers Find Welcome Mat Out in Washington

March 4, 2009

Washington, D.C. – A dozen Midwest farmers say they got a warm reception from federal agriculture officials they met with during a two-day trip to Washington this week. Farmer Tom Nuessmeier of Le Sueur, Minnesota, says important policies are being shaped by the new administration, and producers need a seat at the table.

"What we're trying to do is push for pro-active farm policies that help conservation on working lands and with beginning farmer programs, and for certain things that help independent livestock producers get fair prices for their livestock."

Nuessmeier says he was encouraged by discussions he had with members of his state's Congressional delegation about efforts to preserve and protect land through initiatives such as the Conservation Stewardship Program.

"It'll take public dollars and direct the money towards those operations that are limiting soil loss, using more rotations on their farm – things that lead to water quality."

He says that's a much better use of taxpayer dollars than direct payments.

He says they also traded ideas on helping family farmers and supporting rural communities. Nuessmeier says he left with the impression that farmers have a sympathetic ear in Congress and at the White House.

Groups involved in the trip were the Land Stewardship Project, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. Those taking part in the talks included Minnesota Congress members Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and various USDA officials.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN