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GOP prefers production over climate in next farm bill

Staff photo by Fritz Busch U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer said food security is national security during the Agriculture and Rural Issues forum at Farmfest.

GILFILLAN ESTATE — Republican congressional candidates said the next farm bill needs to focus on production agriculture, not climate change and other lesser issues.

“We need to refocus on agriculture production. The direction the farm bill will go will be determined by who controls Congress and its subcommittees,” said Tyler Kistner of St. Louis Park, Republican challenger in the 2nd District.

“If Democrats control Congress, the farm bill will have peanuts tied to the Green New Deal. With Republicans, the focus will be on production agriculture, plain and simple,” said Kistner.

District 6 Congressman Tom Emmer, R-Otsego, said the next farm bill should be an empowering document.

“I think we should be looking at things that people don’t understand after the pandemic. Our national food security is our national security,” Emmer said. “We have to address the cost of fertilizer and realize it all starts with energy. We need an all-of-the-above energy policy, not eliminating one over the other.”

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Seventh District Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, talks Tuesday at the Farmfest forum on Agriculture and Rural Issues.

District 6 Democratic challenger Jeanne Hendricks said she thinks the next farm bill will be influenced by the new Inflation Reduction Act that will bring more money to conservation measures and change to renewables instead of companies gouging farmers with high prices.

“This will give more money to biofuels and ethanol production, which is so important to get away from dependance on oil companies and reduce farm costs,” Hendricks said.

Seventh District Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said crop insurance will be a very important part of the farm bill.

“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” Fischbach said. “Don’t add a variety of things to it.”

She added that if the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is removed from the farm bill in favor of states, it would detrimental to agriculture.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch 8th District Rep. Pete Stauber, right, looks at 7th District challenger Travis “Bull” Johnson as he talks at a Farmfest political forum Tuesday.

Eighth District candidate John Munter, D-Chisholm, said the seaweed market should be considered to reduce methane emissions. He said it is only grown in Hawaii now.

Studies show adding seaweed to livestock feed can cut methane emissions from cows and other grazing livestock, considered by some a significant source of global greenhouse gases, by up to 70 percent. Experiments in sheep show similar results.

Munter said the Federal Trade Commission should go after price gouging by big oil companies and corporate monopolies.

“We need to look at sustainability, not just profits,” said Munter.

District 7 challenger Travis “Bull” Johnson said the farm bill should be kept as it is, because works and should be free of mandates.

“I’m against mandates. Ethanol needs to stand on its own two feet,” said Johnson.

District 8 Congressman Pete Stauber said he supports year-round E15 sales, more biofuels keeping exemptions fair and repealing the estate tax for family farms.

“I want family farmers to be able to pass their farm on to grandchildren,” Stauber said.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.)

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