During the recently concluded campaign season, the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council and a group of other Minnesota farm and food entities launched "A Greater Minnesota" (AGM) coalition, which put together the 5-Point Farm And Food Pledge, briefly described on its About Page:
A key component of our campaign is asking you, the voters, to encourage legislative candidates to take the 5-point MN Food and Farm Pledge, which encourages supporting all good MN farms (big or small, traditional or organic), environmental stewardship, caring for farm animals, sensible food labeling and food safety.
The first point is spelled more under 1. Support All Good Farms:
Pledge: Support all responsible Minnesota farmers, whether large or small, traditional or organic.
Minnesotans have a stake in supporting all farmers in Minnesota who practice responsible farming methods whether the farms are large or small, traditional farming or organic. Fortunately, nearly every Minnesota farmer farms responsibly. . . .
The section goes on to share the story of the Zweber family farm near Elko, MN., who milk between 100-120 dairy cows for Organic Valley, according to the enbedded YouTube about their operation.
Since the Agri-Growth Council is first on the list of the organizations promoting the notion that "Minnesotans have a stake in supporting all farmers in Minnesota who practice responsible farming methods," Bluestem had to raise our eyebrows at this passage in Mike Mosdale's article in Politics in Minnesota, MPCA chief grilled over mega-dairy decision:
[Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner] Linc Stine noted that citizen board members, while appointed by the governor, must be confirmed by the Senate, with at least one member coming from the agricultural sector.
That did not win over Rosen, who dismissed the industry’s current designee on the board — Dr. Kathryn Draeger of Clinton — as a “sustainable ag producer.”
“That’s not real ag. This is real ag,” Rosen said.
Since Agri-Growth Council Executive Director Perry Aasness testified at Wednesday's hearing, we're totally astonished that he didn't rise to defend the Draeger farm from Rosen's savaging.
Rosen's attack is especially remarkable given that the 320-acre farm [see pdf here]--which Draeger and her husband purchased from his parents in 2008--was named Big Stone County's Farm Family of the Year in 2014:
Mike Jorgenson and Kathy Draeger of Clinton, MN bought their family farm in 2008 from Mike’s parents David and Jean. Prior to his parent’s ownership, Mike’s grandparents Spurgeon and Hilda Jorgenson, bought and farmed the land. The Jorgenson family farm has changed over the years. At first it was a family dairy operation, in which Mike partnered with his parents until he attended the University of Minnesota to get a degree in Agronomy and Plant Genetics. The farm now features a rotationally grazed grass-fed beef operation. The Jorgenson family raises a mixed herd of Irish Dexter and Lowline Angus Cattle. They also have 40 acres in organic crop production with the remaining acres in a conventional crop rotation. The Jorgenson kids, Alma, Jens, and Lake, are involved with poultry production and raise laying hens, pasture-fed broilers, and turkeys and are all active 4H members. . . .
Not "real ag," if you ask Senator Rosen. (Sustainable agriculture is defined by federal statute, by the way, and the Big Stone County farm appears to met that definition).
According to a press release, the families are selected by "local University of Minnesota Extension committees:"
Representing agricultural achievement in diverse farming operations, 74 families from throughout Minnesota are being honored as a 2014 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.
The farm families will be recognized in ceremonies beginning at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 7, at the annual Minnesota Farmfest on the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls. The event is in the Wick Buildings Farmfest Center on the estate grounds.
The farm families represent each county participating in the program. They were chosen by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture.
“The farm families receiving this year’s honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong. They bring innovation, science and hard work to farming. They care greatly about the land and animals and delivering quality products to consumers worldwide,” said Bev Durgan, dean of Extension. “The University of Minnesota takes great pride in honoring these families.” . . .
The 2014 families range from Richard Handeen and Audrey Arner's Moonstone Farm here in Chippewa County to Martin County's Hugoson Family (kin to long-term state ag commissioner Gene Hugoson).
Let's us hope thatthe Agri-Growth Council rises to the Big Stone County family farmers' defense. The Council and other members of "A Greater Minnesota" coalition asked political candidates to value all good farmers, after all.
Perhaps they might honor that pledge itself.
Bonus: State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) tweeted his own opinion of the agency Friday:
MPCA = Minnesota Pushes Companies Across... State lines! Anti-mining Anti-agriculture Anti-commerce Anti-infrastructure - committee hearing!— Rod Hamilton (@RHamilton542) November 14, 2014
Photo: The 2014 Big Stone County Farm Family of the Year (with MN Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson left), whom Senator Julie Rosen doesn't believe are "real ag." Okay then.
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