Bluestem had heard rumors of a meeting of agribusiness lobbyists to draft an "ag manifesto," but had been unable to locate a trace of it.
We've finally found mention in Prinsco's January 21st, 2015 Legislative and Regulatory Update on the agricultural drainage tile manufacturer's website:
Commodity Group Meeting. The executive directors and lobbyists of most of the state’s commodity groups met in Shakopee on Tuesday to continue the discussions on the possibility of putting together a unified agriculture agenda for 2015. Ideas include additional transportation funding, increased truck weights, regulatory and permitting reform, property tax reform, and up to $30 million to fund agriculture-specific programs such as the Farm Business Management program. The group has agreed to the above items in principle, and work on those issues will begin immediately.
We understand that eliminating the Citizens Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and other such controversial ideas are under consideration.
Prinsco's lobbyist is Bruce Kleven, a Minneapolis attorney who also represents the Cooperative Network, whose representatives presented a plan for state-level permitting for dairy operations at unofficial November 12 , 2014 meeting of the Senate Rural Task Force.
Senator Julie Rosen's remarks during the hearing about a 320-acre sustainable farm not being "real ag" prompted an action alert by Land Stewardship Project that drew a flood of emails and phone calls to the task force members, sources told Bluestem Prairie, as well as a public comment on Bluestem from Senator Rosen requesting a meeting with us. While we were eager to meet with her, she declined to meet on the record.
The comment was also the genesis of a popular column by state representative David Bly (DFL-Northfield) that has been published in Forum Communications newspapers as well as Southern Minnesota Media papers in Bly's region.
In addition to Prinsco, commodity groups, dairy and sugar cooperatives, irrigators, the Stop Zebra Mussels Association and spud giant R.D. Offutt, Kleven lobbies for the Do-it Corporation (fishing lures), Duininck Incorporated and agribusiness giant Syngenta America.
A privately-held company, Prinsco describes itself as "a leading advocate for farmers and landowners’ rights." Prinsco is based in Prinsburg, billed as Minnesota's most conservative city; the west central Minnesota town is home to freshman state representative Tim Miller, who wrote to a constituent that he believes in special rights for farmers but not equal rights for all people:
"I believe in equal opportunities but not necessarily equal rights. We as a country afford certain rights not always given to all. Some laws are meant to promote specific benefits to society. For example, farmers are given certain tax incentives not afforded to other businesses. . . ."
Note: A reader was confused by what Miller's remarks on equality had to do with special rights for farmers, so the quotation from a letter has been added to the post, rather than expecting reader to click through to the earlier entry.
Photo: Fields of green, all in the gameo.
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