In the Mankato Free Press's ag supplement, organizer Kent Theisse puts Farmfest forums in summary form. He writes:
The “Congressional Candidates Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issues” was also held on the first day of Farmfest, and was also well attended. Incumbent Congressmen Collin Peterson and Tim Walz provided numerous highlights of the new farm bill passed earlier this year. Peterson chaired the U.S. House ag committee that was a key in writing the new farm bill, and Walz was a member of that committee.
Congressional candidates Brian Davis and Dick Day from the First District, Steve Sarvi from the Second District, Elwyn Tinklenberg from the Sixth District, and Glen Menze from the Seventh District, all applauded many of the provisions in the new farm bill, but also pointed out some things that could be improved in the legislation. The low profitability in the livestock industry and rapidly rising input costs for crop producers were also discussed. Future U.S. energy policy also garnered considerable discussion in this forum."
Wednesday is AgriNews day, and it reports a few paragraphs each on Walz, Day, and Davis in Seven House candidates take part in Farmfest forum. Some choice bits:
Seven candidates from four Congressional districts participated in Farmfest's Congressional Candidate's Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issues.
The candidates debated in a friendly tone, once in a while jabbing at their opponent.
No one issue emerged from the debate as a hot button issue, but each candidate tried to outline their views before the estimated 900 people in attendance at the Aug. 5 forum.
The requested waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard was discussed, with Rep. Collin Peterson, D-7th District, predicting the federal Environmental Protection Agency would not reduce or waive the RFS.
The standard is critical, Peterson said, to move the nation's renewable fuels industry forward and is part of the solution to weaning the nation from foreign oil. Congress is committed to this goal, he said. He supports nuclear, wind and coal development.
His opponent, Glen Menze of Starbuck, said he likewise supports the RFS as did Rep. Tim Walz, D-1st District.
Brian Davis, a Rochester Republican who is running to unseat Walz, said he wouldn't have supported the 2007 energy bill because it did not contain a provision for off-shore drilling. Davis re-iterated his support for off-shore drilling several times during the nearly 90-minute forum.
The article notes other questions the candidates discussed:
Walz highlighted the beginning farmer and rancher language of the bill, a portion he sponsored.
"If I would have written the bill myself it wouldn't look like this," Walz said, but in a democracy compromise is necessary.
Day and Davis said there were portions they would like to change, but it's time to move forward with the legislation.
Of the people on the panel, Davis was the only one to decline to say whether he would have voted for the farm bill if he had been in the House. He called the bill an improvement on past efforts, but said the "bad parts" included 70 percent of the bill that had nothing to do with farming, including food stamps and other programs.
Walz noted the evasion and pointed out how a congressman's responsibility is to decide.
"The thing about being in Congress is when the farm bill comes up, the buttons in front of you are yes or no. You need to make a decision," Walz said.
Lest we be accused of misrepresenting Davis's response, here's the transcript of what we heard Brian Davis say:
You know I’ve been asked this question a few times before and I have to tell you this that since I’m not in Congress its difficult to give a straight yes or no answer because the reality is that it passed with such an overwhelming majority that President Bush couldn’t even veto it. We know that it is an improvement of what we had in the 1940s and what we’re looking for and we do need to have support for our rural communities. We do need to have a situation where farmers can pass down a family farm from one generation to the next. The improvements are in the cyclical payment program. The bad parts are about 70% of it are not really farm programs- they’re food stamps and entitlement programs. [emphasis added] So there reasons to be a better way to do it but it’s what we have right now and we need to move forward with it.
The "Farm Bill" is short for the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. We're wondering if Brian thinks the "bad parts" of the Farm Bill (as described by a recent release by those commies at the Extension office of North Carolina A & T State University) are these items:
You may be surprised to learn that the biggest beneficiary to the farm bill is in the area of nutrition, where funding was increased by $10.3 billion. Nutrition programs such as school lunches, food stamps, and food banks now account for 70% of the overall total expenditures. With obesity as one of the biggest nutritional challenges America faces today, this bill specifically targets funding to ensure that families receiving food stamps and children receiving school lunches will have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Day objected to earmarks to pay for tax credits for race horses; Davis, on the other hand singled the "bad parts," the "entitlements" that are nutritional programs.
The USDA's Food and Nutritional Service web site lays out a table of programs:
We're curious which nutritional "entitlement" programs he thinks are the worst, other than the food stamps he specifically named. Those school lunches? Earlier this summer, the Winona Daily News reported Rushford-Peterson qualifies for program after flood:
The Rushford-Peterson School District began providing free breakfasts and lunches to children Mondays, part of a state-funded summer lunch program. The Summer Food Service Program, administered by the Minnesota Department of Education, reimburses schools for summer meals if 50 percent of children in its geographical area qualify for free or reduced lunches.
About 35 percent of students in the Rushford-Peterson district normally qualify for free or reduced lunches, but after last year’s flood, that number jumped to almost 60 percent. The numbers have not significantly dropped, so the district will offer free lunches to children, regardless of economic status, for the next five summers.
The SFSP is a program administered by the Minnesota Department of Education, Food and Nutrition Service (MDE-FNS) and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Or maybe Davis objects to the USDA's Midwest Flood Response & Recovery Assistance program helping people in Iowa and other federal disaster areas. We have a call in to see if a similar aid program kicked in for those seeking help from last August's flooding in Southeastern Minnesota.
Late in 2007, Rochester-based MPR reporter Sea Stachura reported about the need for increased aid at Rochester's Channel One Food Shelf in Farm bill will influence food shelf future. Maybe Davis objects to aid for his neighbors. Is the "bad part" assistance to food shelves?
Maybe WIC coupons for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and little kids are the "bad part."
We wondered if anyone else caught this and asked some of our friends for their thoughts. The Divine and Most Influential Tild responded by creating the logo at the beginning of this post. It's for another professional group Davis might join (heck he'd have to start it): Physicians Against Nutrition. Give poor kids milk money? How dare Congressman Walz support such things!
Photo: Put down that fork, little girl from Rushford, and step away from your entitlement. Doctor Davis says it's a "bad part" of the Farm Bill.
Both the Land and AgriNews's summaries don't quite capture what GOP endorsee said about the Farm Bill. Actually, Davis didn't give a yes or no answer, as Agri News' sister paper, the Post Bulletin noted in Walz faces off with Davis, Day in debate: