One of the great gifts from the University of Minnesota's horticulture program has been the development of cold climate wine grapes. The work has allowed Minnesotans to develop a small but flourishing local wine industry, and the state's pretty river valleys are now dotted with wineries.
Bluestem hopes that at some time in the future, House Assistant Minority Leader Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, branch out from being a hired hand for Christiansen Family Farms and Feedlot and start crushing sour grapes at his own vineyard. He's highly practiced at the art of the whine, and we think he might as well bottle this stuff.
Our career guidance advice is prompted by an article in today's Forum Communications chain by veterans political reporter Don Davis. In the Worthington Daily Globe, it's running under the title, Chairwomen aim to give ag interests a voice.
The chairwomen announced that the House Agriculture Policy Committee will join the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee when it discusses farm program financing.
It is an effort to answer strong criticism rural Republican legislators leveled against Democrats who control the House. They say ag funding is threatened to be overwhelmed by the other issues, especially since the finance committee chairwoman is a strong environmentalist. . . .
Wagenius said it was her idea to invite a committee chaired by Rep. Jeanne Hoppe, DFL-Austin, to her meeting when farm programs are discussed. While Agriculture Policy Committee members would not have vote in the finance committee, they could ask questions and make comments.
Poppe said the joint committee meetings will give her committee members a chance to “provide some guidance” to the Wagenius committee.
Poppe’s committee is dominated by farm-area representatives, while the Wagenius panel does not have an ag majority. Some lawmakers belong to both committees.
Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, and other Republicans brought up the issue early in the legislative session because they said farmers’ voices would be diminished under the new committee structure. They also pointed to the fact that the two most powerful House leaders are from Minneapolis and St. Paul, as are many committee chairmen.
Poppe said rural Republicans did not complain when their party was in power several years ago and the committee structure was similar.
Poppe herself discussed the controversy while speaking at the ag group’s monthly policy meeting after no one brought up the issue. “It’s better to put it on the table.” . .
Davis cites objections from legislators and Agri-Growth Council members who believe that there might not be enough time to hear all of the budgets under the finance committee's authority.
Given that reality, perhaps Hamilton, Torkelson and the rest of the guys could stop the bitching and start the pitching in.
The rural Republicans seem to have time to whine and whine about the committee structure, and now that the two ag committee chairs have offered a compromise, to whine some more. Bluestem is reminded of the old codgers at church suppers who complain about the communion wafers being too spicy while teams of women bustle about in the kitchen.
Time of the essence? Man up, guys, and get to work. You're not that special.
Photo: Marquette grapes, another sign that Minnesota agriculture is getting more diverse.
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