GILFILLAN ESTATE - Minnesota's U.S. Senate candidates Republican Kurt Bills and DFL incumbent Amy Klobuchar split over whether to pass the federal Farm Bill on Wednesday at the congressional candidate forum at Farmfest. The event was the first time Klobuchar and Bills shared a stage this election season.
The bill has been a major point of anxiety and debate among agricultural leaders and federal legislators. The back-and-forth debate crosses over issues ranging from opposition to the food stamp funding to the need for funding relief to farmers.
The $500 billion over five years bill proposes cutting farm subsidies and land conservation spending by $2 billion a year.
Bills, a state representative and teacher from Rosemount, said he strongly opposed the size of bill and would have voted against it if he were in Congress. He might support a Farm Bill that was half the size of the version passed by the Senate; however, he would need assurance that its subsidies only went to farmers with middle to lower income.
"We can't be everything to everyone. When you try to fulfill every want, you won't have the resources to fulfill what you need," said Bills.
He also mentioned his desire for less government interference, particularly for reductions in regulation.
"The smaller the government, the bigger the citizen," said Bills.
Klobuchar voted for the Senate Farm Bill. She said it was essential to help out farmers struggling with drought while providing more economic stability to all farmers. She said the bill's delays or possible non-passage in the House were purely for political purposes. She also argued that the bill would help cut the federal debt and keep farms in the U.S. strong.
"I don't want us dependent on foreign food," said Klobuchar.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)