Politics in Minnesota's Mike Mullen reports in Winds shifting in agriculture:
On the other side, a new group called A Greater Minnesota (AGM) retained the services of Himle Rapp & Co. The new outfit was formed by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, among other existing agriculture interest groups.
AGM also involved itself in electoral politics, challenging legislative candidates to sign its “five-point pledge.” The group’s opposition to “pseudo-science labeling proposals regarding GMOs” was one element of that policy platform. Other points call for environmental policies “based on sound science … [which] do not put Minnesota farmers and companies at a competitive disadvantage,” as well as “responsible regulation and … voluntary practices” from farmers to insure food safety.
Perry Aasness, executive director of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, also pointed out that several dozen newly elected members had taken the five-point pledge.
“I think the message, hopefully, that both parties took from [the AGM campaign] is that rural Minnesota, and these food and agriculture issues, they shouldn’t be ignored,” Aasness said.
Ultimately, some 65 legislative candidates agreed to all five points, including both Anderson and Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, who will take back the gavel in the agriculture finance committee after two years of DFL control.
Bluestem detects one cross-current to that mighty wind.
When state representative Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) won a third term by a decisive margin in November's elections, she did so without being endorsed by the Republican-leaning Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation or having signed the pledge put together by public-relations effort A Greater Minnesota.
Her DFL opponent signed the pledge, grabbed the Farm Bureau endorsement and watched Franson receive 58.41 percent of the vote. This was a turnaround for her. Franson won by 12 votes in 2012 after capturing the office in a three way race in 2010. This year, she was the top performing candidate in the Republican-leaning state house district.
She's just been appointed as Vice Chair of the Ag Policy Committee. Her statement about the appointment is posted on her official Facebook page. Franson served on the ag committee during her first term.
Rumor also has it that she's making a cameo appearance tonight in Grow Fergus Falls, a short documentary by filmmaker Deb Wallwork featuring graduates of the shuttered Sustainable Food Production Program at Minnesota State.
The film will have its first public screening tonight at 7:00 p.m.in the basement of the Kaddatz Gallery in Fergus Falls. Due to a scheduling conflict, Franson cannot attend, but encouraged people to attend the screening by sharing notice of it on Facebook.
Franson grew interested in the program and its graduates when M State instructors and Franson constitutents Sue Wika and Tom Prieve appealed to their state representative when the program was suspended. She co-authored a bill introduced by progressive Northfield-area state representative David Bly that would have brought the program to the University of Minnesota at Morris.
Buestem doubts that Franson will be taking the floor to tout the establishment of radical eco-vegan collective farms in the rolling hills of Douglas County, though stranger things have happened in the Minnesota legislature.
What's remarkable is that a non-signer of the "5 Point Pledge," which purports to value of all sorts of Minnesota farms and ag practice, seems to be one of legislators who respects sustainable agriculture.
Julie Rosen, co-founder of the Minnesota Senate Rural Task Force, on the other hand, is reported to have said sustainable farming isn't "real ag."
Maybe that talking point isn't all Senator Rosen and her corporate cronies imagine it to be.
Photo: Representative Mary Franson on election night. Despite losing the Farm Bureau endorsement and not signing the AGM's pledge, she won her first overwhelming victory at the polls.
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