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Emmer ‘we battling a special kind of crazy’

GILLFILLAN ESTATE — Minnesota Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer didn’t mince words when talking about U.S. agriculture policy at a Minnesota Farmfest forum at Gilfillan Estate Tuesday.

“When you see us working together with organizations we haven’t in the past, don’t be alarmed,” said Emmer. “We’re battling a special kind of crazy. We need to learn how to get over ourselves and work together to keep agriculture as a way of life.”

Emmer was particularly vocal about federal unemployment payments and U.S. border issues.

“Democrats and Republicans have been fighting about this for too long. The $300 work disincentive needs to go…We have to go back to work and work together to do it,” said Emmer.

“Let’s enforce policy we believe in. The open border policy is ludicrous,” Emmer said.

Nicollet County Commissioner John Luepke of rural Courtland asked about a Colorado group trying to pass a bill that would set limits on how old livestock are before they are slaughtered, and stop castration and artificial insemination of livestock.

Minnesota Pork Producers Association Executive Director Dave Preisler said the legislation was thrown out on a technicality because it dealt with multiple issues.

American Farm Bureau Federation President “Zippy” Duvall said Oregon had similar legislation.

“It’s a threat to the way we do business,” Duvall said.

“You’ll see us working with groups we usually don’t to keep these “crazy” bills out. Don’t be alarmed. Be concerned and get involved,” said American Soybean Association Board Chairman Bill Gordon.

“Focus on farm-driven solutions,” said National Farmers Union President Rob Larew.

Emmer said the federal administration is considering some “real interesting” tax legislation.

“You can’t take the stepped-up basis away,” Emmer said.

Duvall said taxes are probably the most important issue to talk about at Farmfest.

“It’s about keeping the family farm alive. The federal government sent out a lot of money. It’s got to be paid for,” Duvall said. “Talk to their congressmen and senators so they understand your story. Please be involved in an organization you can can be heard.”

“Find your organization and get involved. We have some solutions and some huge market challenges,” said Larew. “People are selling off animals for almost nothing. We have to come up with solutions.”

“We’re looking for input from people,” said Minnesota Seventh District Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach.

Duvall said it’s important to ensure social programs are not eased into the Farm Bill.

“We’re not the problem, we’re the answer,” said Duvall. “U.S. farms lead the world in conservation.”

Preisler talked about California ag policies.

“They’re trying to impose their will on the rest of the country. They can do whatever they want to themselves. They’re a state, not a country. Sometimes that is forgotten,” said Preisler.

Beginning at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Wick building, panelists will look at ag policy recommendations and tax policy for the next Farm Bill.

Panelists include National Corn Growers Vice President Tom Haag, Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap, former U.S. House Ag Committee Chairman Colin Peterson, incoming National Cattleman’s Beef Association President Don Schiefelbein, Minnesota Milk Producers Association Executive Director Lucas Sjostrom, Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish, and Murdock farmer Mike Yost.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com

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