We had a difficult time watching the Farmfest gubernatorial debate on Wednesday, as our bandwidth wasn't able to handle the stream, buffering every few seconds. So we're relying on Forum Communication's Don Davis' reporting in Farmers crowd in to hear Minnesota governor candidates.
Johnson promised to appoint a farmer as agriculture commissioner, complaining that now ag policy is set by bureaucrats and instead of favoring farmers they write rules for butterflies, birds and bees.
This is a peculiar take on Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson's career, as well as a slap on pollinator conservation (and misplacing the ditch mowing permit controversy in the department of ag, when the Minnesota Department of Transportation proposed the rule).
According to Agriculture Commissioner Frederickson's bio:
Governor Mark Dayton appointed Dave Frederickson to the position of Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in January 2011. Frederickson’s family roots in farming go back to 1873, and he and his wife, Kay operated a farm in Murdock for more than 20 years.
Frederickson was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 1986, and was reelected to the post in 1990. He represented constituents in Swift, Yellow Medicine, Lac Qui Parle, Chippewa, and Redwood Counties. As a senator he served on a variety of committees, including agriculture and rural development, education, government operations, taxes and tax laws, and local and urban government. He chaired the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee on Agriculture Resources during the 1991 and 1992 sessions.
From 1991 to 2002, Frederickson served as president of the Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU). He subsequently served as president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) from 2002 to 2006. In both organizations, he worked on federal farm policy and other issues important to farmers and ranchers.
From 2007 to 2010, Frederickson worked as agricultural outreach director for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. In that capacity, he helped lead listening sessions around the state and talked frequently with Minnesota farmers, ranchers and rural residents about the federal issues that mattered most to them.
Frederickson earned a degree in education from St. Cloud State University. He also performed graduate work in special education at St. Cloud State. After graduating, he taught in Mora and St. Cloud, as well as a small town in the state of Wyoming.
Commissioner Frederickson has received numerous awards and honors, including the NFU’s Meritorious Award in 2009 for his years of service on behalf of Minnesota and American farmers.
Commissioner Frederickson’s farm background and his wide range of experience in public service have given him unique insights into the challenges facing Minnesota’s agricultural industry. As a state senator and in his positions at MFU and NFU, Frederickson earned a reputation as a strong advocate for farmers and agricultural issues, education and tax reform. Today, he is particularly focused on maintaining and building Minnesota’s food safety programs and on helping Minnesota farmers deal with unstable commodity prices and rising input costs. Farm groups from around the state praise him for his personable approach and his ability to work with people of all backgrounds and perspectives toward common goals.
At the time of his appointment, Frederickson was praised by the Minnesota Farm Bureau president Kevin Papp in The Farmer article Frederickson named MDA Commissioner:
"Dave Frederickson brings a wealth of experience to the post of Commissioner of Agriculture," says Kevin Papp, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation president. "We have seen firsthand Dave's ability to work with all farmers and the organizations that represent them."
"In addition to actively running a farm, Mr. Frederickson has been engaged on the local, state, national and international level with farmers, agricultural organizations and elected officials," says Paap. "His real world experiences will serve him well as he works to fulfill the MDA's mission of enhancing Minnesotans' quality of life by ensuring the integrity of our food supply, the health of our environment and the strength of our agricultural economy."
More recently, the Bemidji Pioneer reported in Minn. ag commish on final lap as storied career to end on water:
Frederickson has had a richly varied career in agricultural and public life.
He taught school before going home to the farm in Swift County. He farmed for more than 24 years. He also served two terms in the Minnesota state Senate, where he was a key author of ethanol mandate laws that formed the basis of national renewable fuels standards. He spent 10 years years as Minnesota Farmers Union president. In 2002 he was elected National Farmers Union president. He served two terms for six years, then went to work four years on the staff of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
According to the by-laws of the Minnesota Farmers Union, the president must be a farmer.
As for the crack about pollinator protection, that's not quite the story. The Farmer reported Ag committee hears concerns about governor's pollinator executive order:
MDA’s review, issued to the public in late August in conjunction with the governor’s executive order, was the culmination of work directed by the 2013 state Legislature for the MDA to review neonicotinoid use in the state. . . .
Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, chairman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee, said Dayton’s order is vague and came out of the blue.
“A top concern is, farmers and other people in the ag industry were not consulted before this executive order was issued,” he said.
Dave Frederickson, MDA commissioner, acknowledged farmers’ concerns and pointed out at the hearing that pollinators are in trouble, and the state needs to help reverse that trend. He also explained how the review work originated in 2013 due to the legislative request to develop BMPs for pollinators.
“These [executive order] directives were based on discussions with stakeholders at the pollinator summit held in February and the special registration review process, including public comments solicited as part of the scoping document.” Those public comments included 444 responses, five of which came from agricultural representatives: Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Agri-Growth, CropLife, Bayer and Syngenta.
We attended the pollinator summit and farmers were at the table, along with people in the ag industry.
Photo: Rumor is that this dirty hippie comes from a farming background.
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