Sen. Franken says he wants to hear from dairy producers
By Heather Thorstensen
Date Modified: 09/09/2010 9:26 AM
FAIRFAX, Minn. — While visiting dairy farmers in Fairfax Aug. 24, U.S. Senator Al Franken made it clear he values their opinions and looks to them for guidance on dealing with legislative issues that could help their industry.
"You're the experts," he told them.
Approximately 90 people gathered at Nosbush Dairy for the Picnic on the Farm, part of a series organized by Minnesota Milk Producers Association. The picnics are a chance for legislators to speak with their dairy farmer constituents.
The farm has a milking herd of 550 Holsteins. It's run by three brothers — David, Brad and Leroy Nosbush — and their families.
After a private tour of the farm, the Democratic senator spoke briefly with the dairy farmers, business owners and local government officials who came to the picnic.
He thanked the farmers for their hard work to feed the country and said he knows 2009 was difficult, which is why last year he helped secure $350 million so USDA could purchase surplus dairy products.
Knowing price issues will continue to be important, he welcomed their ideas.
"I want to make sure that you keep that way of life," he told them. "...To me, the farm family is sort of the backbone of rural Minnesota."
In the question-and-answer session, people expressed concerns about keeping the U.S. dairy industry on a level playing field with other countries, potential future regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and keeping the cap on farms eligible for MILC payments.
He was asked if the farm bill could be separated into budgets for agriculture, nutrition and forestry so the general public doesn't wrongly assume farmers get the entire budget. Franken said it's important to keep the bill's components together so it can pass through Congress.
"The way you get a congressman in New York City to vote for the ag bill is if you have food stamps in it," he said.
He shook everyone's hands under the tent and received a MMPA cap.
After he left, everyone else was welcome to tour the farm.