The Rock County Star Herald reports that Luverne's airport may benefit from Recovery Act funds that could pay for runway expansion.
In Farmers suddenly find ax poised over their subsidies, the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
It's not just Wall Street moguls who will feel the wrath of President Obama's budget.
Farmers in Minnesota and across the Midwest are headed for a showdown with the Obama administration over subsidy caps intended to limit government payments to the nation's wealthiest farmers.
Obama's first budget, released Thursday, rekindles the debate about millionaire farmers by ending direct payments to farmers with sales revenue greater than $500,000 a year, and limiting all commodity payments to a total of $250,000 per farmer.
Minnesota farmers received $305 million in direct farm payments in 2007, ranking the state sixth in the nation, according to the Environmental Working Group, which has long advocated for tighter limits on large farms that receive the bulk of the subsidies.
But some farm groups -- even those that advocate payment limits -- say that Obama's proposals go substantially beyond the farm reforms Congress enacted last year, and could cut into the earnings of more modest family farms.
"If you're a 1,000-acre corn farmer in western Minnesota, you will certainly hit that $500,000 gross sales limit," said Madison, Minn., farmer Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union.
In 2007, 6,426 Minnesota farms had sales exceeding that level, according to U.S. Census data.
At current commodity price levels, Peterson said, the new limits could cost farmers as much as $1 a bushel.
"It's a little bit of a shock," said Blue Earth County corn and soybean farmer Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. "These payments are a critical part of the farm safety net.". . .
Minnesotans on the House and Senate Ag Committees react:
"We just passed a fiscally responsible farm bill that made cuts to farm programs, so now is not the time to reopen it," said Minnesota Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who shepherded the legislation through Congress as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Peterson, who will be in the spotlight of the debate, is already feeling pressure from some of the nation's largest farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"The recently reformed farm bill substantially reduced commodity spending and tightened eligibility criteria for farmers," said Bob Stallman, the Farm Bureau's president. "We should not be singled out by any proposal."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said she is open to additional limits on farm payments, but not if it means reopening other parts of the farm bill, the bulk of which provides food and nutrition programs for low-income families.
Obama's farm proposals, taking aim at a swath of rural America that typically votes Republican, provide substantial change from the law that went into effect this year. Farmers currently face a $750,000 cap on adjusted gross farm income to be eligible for farm subsidies. Obama's proposed $500,000 sales revenue cap would represent a much lower threshold.
"That's a big difference, and one that we think could pose a problem," said Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat who believes the proposed limit could snag many of the dairy farms in his southern Minnesota district.
Former Senator Coleman served on the Senate Ag committee with Klobuchar and supported the bill. Al Franken supported the 2007 Farm Bill and was endorsed by the National Farmers Union's PAC. We doubt either one would whole-heartedly support Obama's proposal when seated in the Senate after the recount court battle is concluded. Franken does support Klobuchar's plan to prevent non-farmers from getting Farm Bill payments and the Dorgan-Grassley proposal to limit payments to any one farmer to $250,000.
The flashpoint for many farm country reformers is Obama's proposal to base restrictions on sales of products rather than net income.
We're off to the second day of Transparency Camp.
Photo: The Luverne Airport.