Farm Bill politics again made news today in Greater Minnesota. The Park Rapids Enterprise reports that drought-stricken counties across the state are now covered by a USDA disaster declaration, while the MNDaily checked out the Walz-Quist race in the the first of an eight-part series profiling the 2012 Minnesota congressional races.
In Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson, Walz announce USDA disaster declaration for Minnesota counties affected by ongoing drought, the Park Enterprise reports:
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a disaster declaration for counties in Minnesota affected by the ongoing drought. This declaration means that farmers in these counties are now eligible for emergency loan assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to help cover crop or livestock losses. . . .
“This important action by the USDA will work to give farmers and ranchers peace of mind during these difficult times,” said Walz. “What rural America needs now is certainty. House leadership should follow USDA’s lead and bring the bipartisan five-year Farm Bill forward for a vote. I will continue working with my colleagues in the House to push leadership to make this happen. Minnesota’s farmers and ranchers can’t wait.”
The declaration designates Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Brown, Clay, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Jackson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, Mower, Murray, Norman, Pennington, Pipestone, Polk, Red Lake and Watonwan counties as a primary disaster area. Cass, Clearwater, Dodge, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Roseau, Steele, Wadena, Waseca, Wilkin and Winona counties have been designated contiguous disaster counties.
Primary disaster area counties Blue Earth, Brown, part of Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Jackson, Martin, Mower, and Watonwan Counties are in MNCD1, as are contiguous disaster counties Dodge, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Rock, Steele, Waseca and Winona Counties. Only Rice County (partially in the new district) has not been afflicted by the ongoing drought.
MNDaily student journalist Bryna Godar captures the Minnesota Mayberry nature of the First in Quist, Walz battle for small-town Minnesota. She leads with observations by Bluestem 2010 contributor Thomas Trehus:
Spring Grove native Thomas Trehus describes southern Minnesota as a region with a “strong sense of community.”
“There are tons of small towns — everyone knows each other, and everyone feels connected to one another,” said Trehus, a political science senior at the University of Minnesota.
Although Trehus lives in Minneapolis during the school year, he’s planning on voting absentee in his hometown and Congressional District 1. . . .
The issues? The Farm Bill takes center stage:
In the largely agricultural region of the first district, the farm bill has surfaced as an important campaign issue.
Quist, who runs an 800-acre farm of corn and soybeans, is pushing for renegotiation of the farm bill, largely due to the high inclusion of food stamps.
Walz, however, is pushing for the bill’s passage.
“The time to get it done is now,” he said.
Although Walz doesn’t agree with every aspect of the bill, he emphasized the need for compromise and the farmers’ desire for certainty.
“The farm groups are all saying they need the farm bill passed,” Kunkel said. . . .
The Hill reports that a Farm bill discharge petition has been filed by Iowa Democrat Bruce Braley:
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) filed a discharge petition on the 2012 farm bill on Thursday after procedural hurdles were overcome.
If a majority of the House signs onto the petition, leaders will be forced to hold an immediate vote on the stalled bipartisan measure. . . .
Braley said Boehner was playing games.
“Games are being played in Washington, as Speaker Boehner is using all the moves in the procedural playbook to keep the farm bill off the House Floor. He has decided to personally overrule the bipartisan majority of the House Agriculture Committee by keeping the bill bottled up,” he said.
“Now, Speaker Boehner is preventing the reporting of the bill, over the objection of 35 Agriculture Committee Members who voted to report, and it’s been 64 days. Speaker Boehner needs to end the games, and allow the Congress to do its job by voting on the bill,” Braley added. . . .
Images: Minnesota drought monitor (via DNR); Thomas Trehus staffing the Houston County DFL booth at the Houston County Fair in 2008.