Farmers asked to influence ag policies

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 1999

Hog producers will get a chance to express some of their frustrations regarding policy at a hearing with law makers on Tuesday.

Monday, October 25, 1999

Hog producers will get a chance to express some of their frustrations regarding policy at a hearing with law makers on Tuesday.

Email newsletter signup

The Minnesota House Agriculture and Rural Development Finance Committee will hold a hearing in Albert Lea on Oct. 26 at City Hall from 9-12 p.m. The pork industry, producer contracts and price reporting regulations are topics the committee plans to address.

Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, said the hearings will focus on people’s suggestions regarding agriculture production and state farm policies.

&uot;But the committee also wants to focus on agricultural industries that are unique to different parts of the state,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;The session will give local farmers a chance to express their opinion and really play a part in shaping state agriculture policy.&uot;

Andy Dildea of the House Agricultural Finance Committee said concerned producers &uot;need to come and tell us what is and isn’t working. We’re looking for ways to make our farmers more competitive. And the best way to help the farmer is to listen to what the men and women involved have to tell us.&uot;

Committee members will be listening for suggestions about streamlining or eliminating burdensome or unnecessary regulations that create financial hardships for farmers or farm-related businesses.

The Albert Lea hearing is part of an 18-stop tour throughout rural Minnesota. From now until December, committee members will be hosting hearings that will include 10 minute blocks of scheduled testimony and an open microphone session for public comments and questions.

&uot;If you have a beef about state agricultural polices, come to this hearing and let the committee members know,&uot; Dorman said.

Committee members hope the hearings will make the legislative process more accessible and identify areas in which farmers believe state government can help. Dildea said the committee recognizes the hardships pork producers have endured this year, from a sudden drop in prices to the psuedorabies epidemic that struck Minnesotan hogs earlier this year.

&uot;We started the year at 60 cents, and that dropped to 8 cents,&uot; Dildea said. &uot;We lost 100 percent of our export market for hogs because of the psuedorabies. It was a very tough year.&uot;

Dildea added that law makers sought to help the producers by providing special funding for the psuedorabies vaccine and convincing rural lenders to give producers some leeway. But the committee is interested to hear producers’ views on the recent struggles and how laws and policy helped or hindered the recovery.

Dorman noted that the committee’s visit is part of a larger House effort to address issues that concern the vitality of rural Minnesota communities. He said the Legislature will also be paying attention to non-farm issues such as rural health care, declining school enrollments, rural telecommunications and economic development.

&uot;A farm recovery and a strong rural economy are essential to keeping our towns healthy,&uot; Dorman said.