Update: We're home now after having taken Crystal, our friend who videotaped the forum, on a side trip through beautiful parts of the First. We're editing this for grammar and clarity. Any edits/additions for clarity will be placed within brackets . It's always interesting to bring a smart young apolitical friend to forums like the one at Farmfest today. She appreciated the focus on issues and the questions the panelists asked. [end update]
2:51 Collin Peterson makes his closing remarks. He mentions how Walz, a freshman, helped keep Pelosi in line [ while the Farm Bill was being drafted and brought to the floor]. He discusses the intricacies of the Farm Bill.
Glen Menze mentions the changes ag is going through and bridges it with the sort of changes that will make a new ag bill more acceptable for most urban/suburban leaders and taxpayers.
Walz thanks everyone for working on ag issues and his opponents for running and making democracy work. He talks about his vision of engaging everyone in policy making. He wants less bickering and more moving things forward.
Davis talks about his family. He mentions drilling. He wants free trade. He wants to eliminate the estate tax.
Day thanks Farmfest for the invitation. He's a native southern Minnesotan. What has changed in two years? The bickering is still there. We have to get things done. He appeals for people's vote in the primary. Talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy oats.
Sarvi talks about how serving in Iraq made him come home and want to improve things. He relates what he learned from observing in other countries. He wants more action and less bickering.
Tinklenberg thanks everyone. He apologizes for his opponent's absence. He relates his small-town background. He mentions ag and transportation needs. "We borrow the earth from our children."
2:35 Doug Peterson asks about fair prices in the face of agribusiness mergers and the candidates' position on enforcing anti-trust laws.
Sarvi and Tinklenberg are both in favor of enforcing anti-trust law.
Menze isn't a fan of heavy regulation, but monopolies are harmful to farmers.
Peterson thinks there has been too much deregulation of markets.
Davis supports antitrust laws. Transparency in markets is important. But free markets are important.
Day believes competition is good BUT: consolidation has its downside. Large scale agriculture companies can have too much power-- "it's scary."
Walz talks about consolidation in the ag sectors about the need for fair trade. Walz gets the biggest hand of the forum--from people all over the tent. [Crystal, who was taping in the back of the tent, confirmed that the applause came from throughout the audience spontaneously.]
2:27 Kevin Papp asks about how to help keep young people in farming and to have strong rural communities.
Davis talks about the need to bring down oil prices. Tap more resources.
Day remember Dallas Sams wondering about recruiting young farmers. Day advocates programs to help finance young farmers.
Walz talks about the Beginning Farmer legislation he wrote with Herseth-Sandlin that was made law.
Sarvi talks about the need to create diverse rural economies and to help pass farms down. He wants the GI Bill to help rural warriors go into farming.
Tinklenberg talks about the sort of work the Ventura administration did to boost rural economies. It's impressive.
Menze talks about changing farm lending programs so farm families can participate across generations.
Peterson talks about the need to have a strong ag sector itself--and he urges caution in changing loan programs. The economic fundamentals have to work.
2:19 Lance Peterson talks about clean water regulations. Glen Menze says that farmers are great stewards and says we can both farm and improve water quality.
Peterson says he opposes Oberstar's Clean Water bill completely. Peterson promote responsible tiling.
Davis agrees that farmers are great stewards. He boasts about working in the nuclear industry for years in the 1970s and 1980s (we'll get back to that again0. He opposes the Clean Water Restoration Act and asks where Walz stands (gee Davis--didn't you put out a press release on that?).
Day opposes the bill.
Walz opposes the bill as written now and mentions that Davis has misrepresented his position. He reminds the audience that he's been talking about his position and working toward a solution for two years now. He says he worked in the energy industry, too--pumping gas in college. [This got a big laugh].
Sarvi talks about the need for sound legislation. Tinklenberg wants to change the wording of the legislation. As it is he opposes it.
2:11 [Roger Moore] from the corn growers asks whether the candidates would support biofuels provisions in the 2005 and 2007 energy bill. He asks specifically about renewable energy standards.
Elwyn Tinklenberg says yes. Peterson wants to continue the supports for mandates and to exploiting all energy sources for energy independence especially with 2nd generation fuel stocks.. Menze supports the ethanol mandates.
Walz says he supports both and talks about the work of the bipartisan House energy group.
Davis talks about drilling. Day talks about drilling.
Sarvi says he'd have voted for both bills. He says he's not opposed to drilling but wants available areas drilled first.
2:02 Kristin Weeks Duncanson asks how the candidates how they define "sustainable" farming. Sarvi mentions the health of the land and the ability of various scales to thrive. Tinklenberg has a fairly similar answer. Peterson stresses economic sustainability. Menze wants inputs to be affordable. Walz talks about the ability of farms of various scales to thrive while being good stewards.
Davis talks about drilling offshore.
Day warns against extremist groups.
1:57 Doug Peterson asks if the candidates would vote for the Farm Bill.
Walz answers first , saying that he not only voted for it, but he also helped crafted it. It would have been different if he did it alone, but that's not the way it works. Walz talks about the process of asking producers and rural residents for their ideas and the process of compromise.
Davis says he's been asked the question often but didn't serve in Congress so it's hard to say since Bush couldn't even veto the bill and make it stick. He says we have to move on.
Day would have supported it although he doesn't support some of the earmarks that came in from the Senate side, even though he likes race horses. [This earned a laugh because of Day's well-known support of a racino at Canterbury Park].
Sarvi would have voted for for it but he wants more effort directed toward sustainable ag.
Tinklenberg would have voted for it, he mentions that his opponent did not.
Peterson gets a laugh when he says he supported it. For changes, he would have liked to eliminate direct payments but the Southern interests insisted that they be in the bill.
Menze would not have supported it because he doesn't like payments to wealthy farmers.
1:48 Kevin Papp asked the first question: it's about the soaring costs of inputs for livestock producers.
Collin Peterson starts, reminding the audience that there are no easy answers in ag. He wants research for livestock. Peterson holds up a fan that says "Food and Fuel" and notes that he believes there's a false dilemma when the issue is framed pitting the two against each other.
Glen Menze talks about his family's personal experience. He wants to stop helping out rice and cotton farmers and help livestock farmers in the Midwest.
Walz talks about the need for research to help farmers' get lower costs. He mentions the bipartisan working group that he works with.
Davis believes that free trade and lower energy costs are the answer.
Dick Day says we need no more regulation and allow farmers farm. He mentions feed costs. He says the small family farm is gone.
Steve Sarvi say he would represent a suburban and rural district if elected. He mentions an Iraqi buddy who is a hog farmer who is considering moving his operations to Brazil. We work as a team to support farmers.
El Tinklenberg wants to open up more markets.
1:39 Kent Thiesse is laying down the ground rules and introducing the candidates who aren't on the forum. The audience is told to hold the "hooting and the hollering" until the end. The candidates are hearing the rules. Each candidate get a minute to answer questions, then two minute closing statements.
1:25: We're here, sweating in media row under the forum tent at Farmfest. Governor Pawlenty is talking about renewable biofuels. The congressional forum is about to start.