Coverage of the January 28 hearing on weed resistance by the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee was pretty sparse once it became clear that the two main witnesses, agronomists from the University of Minnesota, were discussing the science of weed herbicide resistance and the potential for developing profitable cover crop industries.
And here's the Uptake's livestream, which does break away to the other committee:
Not that Republicans didn't try to gin up some spin before the hearing about "anti-farmer." Committee member Dan Fabian (R-Roseau) took to the airwaves on the Red River Farm Network, making a cameo on the Agri-Growth Council-sponsored Ag Take for January 24:
TUESDAY: via Red River Farm Network, VERBATIM: “The Minnesota House Environment, Natural Resources and Agricultural Finance Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday morning in St. Paul on Roundup Ready resistance. Representative Dan Fabian, from District 1A, says farmers should be concerned.” READ: http://bit.ly/1cbAKyc
That link at the end is obsolete but we tend to save these sorts of items:
MN House Committee to Review RR Resistance — The Minnesota House Environment, Natural Resources and Agricultural Finance Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday morning in St. Paul on Roundup Ready resistance. Representative Dan Fabian, from District 1A, says farmers should be concerned. "For me it is a concern because this is a way to get at the GMO issue," related Fabian, "There's a number of people that I believe think GMO's are some sort of an evil thing." Fabian contends biotechnology is positive news for the environment. Fabian told farmers at a Small Grains Update meeting in Argyle Thursday that his committee chair, Representative Jean Wagenius, Minneapolis, is “after you.”
Isn't that special? Fabian, a retired teacher, self-employed crop hail insurance adjuster, tells farmers that Representative Jean Wagenius, of Minneapolis is "after you." Lovely.
However, as the minutes and recordings of the committee illustrate, chair Wagenius gravelled the committee to order, then handed the committee over to vice chair Andrew Falk. Falk, a crop farmer, is Bluestem's state representative. One of the things Falk shares on Facebook are "tractor shots" and "combine shots" that smart technology helps bring working farmers' activities home to millions of Americans.
Falk quickly got down to business on the 28th, turning over the committee to the weed experts, who then took questions.
We were somewhat surprised to read Lively discussion about weeds at legislative hearing in AgriNews and the Rochester Post Bulletin two days ago. In the article, Janet Kubat Willette is her usual competent self, although she probably ought to have mentioned that Falk is a farmer (his parents also run a seed company for small grains near Murdock).
Other than that, the article's mostly a fair recounting of the hearing:
A Jurassic Park reference may have best summed up the weed resistance presentation made before members of the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee.
"Nature will find a way," Rep. Rick Hansen said, drawing a reference to the 1993 movie about a theme park filled with genetically-engineered dinosaurs. . . .
Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, said the tools used by farmers to control weeds aren't being taken away by legislators, they are being taken away by biology. As farmers and others in agriculture keep working on management practices, nature continues to find ways to outwit them.
Go read what's in between that lede and closing paragraph.
Just the ghost of a failed frame: picking on farmers (not)
As the hearing itself demonstrated, Willette story reveals the ghost of the failed place-baiting frame the Republican caucus tried to bring to the committee hearing:
Some legislators took issue with the subject of the hearing.
Republican Rep. Deb Kiel, who farms by Crookston, said she felt attacked. A lot of people are working hard to be sure there isn't weed resistance, she said, and techniques are changing all the time.
Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, reflected on his days walking beans and said the good ol' days weren't all that good.
"Back in the 1970s when I was a 10-year-old kid walking beans, I would have told you that every single weed in that field was a resistant," he said, to chuckles from other members.
"I'm just thinking here as a farmer what is our purpose? ... Our purpose, I believe is to provide the consumer with a safe, wholesome, great-tasting product at an affordable price, responsibly. ... I think that we need to work collectively again, between the industry professionals, between the educators and other stakeholders to continue to search for those best management practices, those tools, and not just try to take away the tools agriculture has. Work together and bring forth solutions," Hamilton said.
One wonders why Kiel felt attacked by the science that creates the techniques farmers rely upon.
But Hamilton's folksy recollection of walking beans as a child--which Bluestem's publisher also did in junior high--may have drawn laughs, but the notion that he's a "farmer" rather than a hired hand in the human resources department at Christensen Farms should provoke the greater laughter.
All childhood memorie aside, has Hamilton seen a weed since working inside that corporate office? What tools does he (or the person who drafted the prepared remarks he read during the hearing) imagine that anyone giving a presentation in the hearing was proposing to take away?
Photo: Dan Fabian (R-Roseau) reads to a Head Start class (above, via Fabian campaign site); Jim Falk (left) and Representative Andrew Falk (right) out standing in their oat field, April 2013. Also, a tractor. (below, via Facebook).
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