Klobuchar, Franken speak at MFU banquet
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 12/09/2010 9:12 AM
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — People say Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but Sen. Amy Klobuchar likes to refer to Minnesota as the land of 80,000 farms.
Klobuchar spoke Nov. 20 at the convention banquet during the 69th annual convention of the Minnesota Farmers Union.
The state is first in sugar beet and turkey production and sixth in honey production, a statistic she learned while working on a honey laundering issue.
Klobuchar asked the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on honey laundering with tougher enforcement of laws already on the books and with a new identity standard to ensure the purity of honey that is sold in the United States, according to information on the Minnesota Honey Producers Association web site.
A member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Klobuchar said she's spoken with Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan who will replace Sen. Blanche
Lincoln at the helm of the committee. Lincoln failed in her bid for reelection. Stabenow assured Klobuchar that she's committed to writing a strong farm bill.
Rep. Collin Peterson is also hopeful a good farm bill can be delivered, Klobuchar said.
It's important to support rural Minnesota, which has been the economic bright spot during this economic downturn, she said.
Klobuchar is working to find more markets for Minnesota products. She supports opening the Cuban market, which has more people than Minnesota and Wisconsin combined, she said.
The senator said the ethanol and biodiesel tax credits have to be extended. The other side is very entrenched in opposition, she said.
Klobuchar is hopeful that an estate tax compromise can be worked out before the end of the year.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., followed Klobuchar to the podium and spoke about everything he's learned about farming since he started running for Congress.
Farmers have to be soil scientists, mechanics, economists, businessmen, veterinarians … they have to know things he doesn't even know they have to know, he said.
Franken said he's fascinated by dried distillers grains because they look like Grape Nuts cereal. He even advised a cattle producer up in the 7th Congressional District to give DDGs a try. The guy later told him he'd tried DDGs and they worked great, Franken said.
He's not on the ag committee, but he is fighting for family farmers.
The GIPSA rule means a lot to him, Franken said. All businesses, especially ag-related businesses, need to have free and fair competition, he said.
Franken expressed support for extending the Volumetric Ethanol Tax Credit and the biodiesel tax credit.