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Mower County has two ag committee chairs

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 12/27/2012 8:41 AM

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AUSTIN, Minn. — When the Legislative session convenes in January, two people from Mower County will be gaveling the agricultural policy committees to order.

Rep. Jeanne Poppe, who is serving her fifth term, will chair the House Agriculture Policy Committee. Across the Capitol, Sen. Dan Sparks, who is serving his fourth term, will chair the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Committee.

Poppe and Sparks live in Austin, but both have rural connections and an interest in doing what they can to ensure the progress of rural Minnesota.

Poppe grew up near Houston and rose through the ranks of the Cushion Peak Echoes 4-H Club. Her father was a Farm Bureau member who served as a township officer for more than 30 years. He instilled a strong belief in civic involvement.

"If you don't do it, it's not going to get done," she said.

Sparks spent time on his grandfather's farm in the 1980s and worked in agricultural lending. More recently, he has been helping a farmer friend in the field.

That real-world experience will be helpful to him as chairman of the agriculture committee, Sparks said.

The Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Committee will have 10 members, six DFLers and four Republicans. The Democratic members were recently announced and Sparks expects the Republicans to announce their members soon.

On the House side, Poppe doesn't know who will serve on the agriculture policy committee or even how many members the committee will have.

This year's session will be an odd-year session, and the main task of an odd-year session is setting the budget. The November forecast was released last week and the governor will base his budget upon those figures. The Legislature will base their budget upon the February forecast.

The Legislature convenes Jan. 8.