Committee Hears from Minnesota Producers about Farm Policy

Jul 22, 2006

MARSHALL, MN – Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson today convened the tenth in a series of field hearings the House Committee on Agriculture is holding to examine federal farm policy in anticipation of writing the 2007 Farm Bill. Approximately 150 producers and local officials attended the hearing in Marshall, Minnesota, located in the Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District which Peterson represents in Washington.

Agriculture is the second largest employer in Minnesota and accounts for 16 percent of total employment in the state. There are 80,900 farms in Minnesota, averaging 344 acres in size. Minnesota is the seventh largest agricultural producer and the eighth largest livestock producer in the U.S.

“Today’s hearing provided the Committee with the opportunity to hear about the issues facing Minnesota farmers and ranchers. The Ranking Minority Member, Collin Peterson, is a strong proponent of renewable energy and visiting his district has given me a first-hand look at the alternative energy sources Minnesota producers are producing and utilizing. As we head into the next farm bill, the information that we’ve gathered from producers around the country through these hearings will be very useful to our Members,” said Chairman Goodlatte in his opening statement.

Minnesota producers also play a significant role in alternative energy production. Minnesota was the first state to implement a 10 percent ethanol requirement and of the 200 E-85 fueling stations in U.S., Minnesota is home to 130 E-85 fueling stations.

“The candid testimony provided today will be helpful to me and my colleagues as we consider the next farm bill. As a national agriculture leader, Minnesota offers the Committee many valuable perspectives on farm policy, particularly value-added, farmer-owned renewable energy. I thank all of the witnesses for their comments, and also Chairman Goodlatte, and my colleagues for visiting southern Minnesota,” said Rep. Gil Gutknecht.

Two panels of witnesses appeared before the Committee and provided a broad overview of Minnesota’s diverse agricultural economy. Farm bills are typically written every five years and encompass a variety of programs including nutrition, energy, marketing, commodity, rural development, and conservation.

“Minnesota is a leader in agriculture and renewable energy. I am proud to have this opportunity to share my state’s success with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee, and as we write the next farm bill, we will do what we can to build on the success that our farmers have achieved,” said Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson.

Fourteen members of the Committee attended today’s hearing including: Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA; Frank Lucas, R-OK; Jerry Moran, R-KS; Gil Gutknecht, R-MN; Steve King, R- IA; Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson, D-MN, Tim Holden, D-PA; Bob Etheridge, D-NC, Dennis Cardoza, D-CA, Stephanie Herseth, D-SD, Charlie Melancon, D-LA; Jim Costa, D-CA; Leonard Boswell, D-IA; and Rick Larsen, D-WA. Rep. Mike Ross, D-AR, a former member of the Committee on Agriculture, also attended today’s hearing.

Testimony from Saturday’s witnesses is available on the Committee website, and the full transcript will be available on the website in four to six weeks.

Witness List

Panel I
Mr. Richard Magnusson, Wheat, Barley, Corn, Soybean, Sunflower Producer, Roseau, Minnesota
Mr. Robert Rynning, Wheat, Barley, Soybean, and Canola Producer, Kennedy, Minnesota
Mr. Steve Williams, Sugar Producer, Fisher, Minnesota
Mr. Bob Worth, Soybean Producer, Lake Benton, Minnesota
Mr. Jerry Larson, Potato Producer, Climax, Minnesota
Mr. Ron Obermoller, Corn and Soybean Producer, Brewster, Minnesota
Mr. Jerry Van Zee, Sorghum Producer, Platte, South Dakota

Panel II
Mr. Mark Seeger, Grain Producer, Mahnomen, Minnesota
Mr. Ron Durst, Dairy Producer, Mantorville, Minnesota
Mr. Pete Rothfork, Turkey Producer, Melrose, Minnesota
Mr. Peter Bakken, Cattle Producer, Garretson, South Dakota
Mr. Patrick FitzSimmons, Pork Producer, Dassel, Minnesota
Mr. Rod Wenstrom, Dairy Producer, Fergus Falls, Minnesota
Mr. Paul Sobocinski, Pork Producer, Wabasso, Minnesota