Guest Column: Fighting for southern Minnesota farmers
Published 7:45 pm Thursday, April 25, 2019
Guest Column by Jim Hagedorn
If you could talk to the president about anything, what would it be? I recently had the president’s ear while he was visiting Minnesota and used the opportunity to advocate for southern Minnesota’s farmers. After all, it’s what I promised to do.
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Our economy is at a historic high, but far too many of our farmers still face significant economic headwinds. They face low commodity prices, high input costs, excessive regulations and too many barriers to free trade.
For me, farming isn’t politics. It’s personal. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all southern Minnesota farmers. Growing up on our family’s grain and livestock farm near Truman, walking the bean fields and working the land instilled in me a deep appreciation for agriculture and rural life. All this is what helps motivate me to sustain farming and our way of life.
Shortly before I arrived in Congress, a new five-year Farm Bill was enacted into law. The bill’s provisions help farmers maintain operations when times are tough. I support the Farm Bill and as a member of the House Committee on Agriculture I’ll keep working closely with my colleagues to make sure it is properly implemented.
To be successful, farmers need fewer trade barriers and new global markets. I’ve petitioned U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and President Trump himself to break down trade barriers. Based upon my conversation with President Trump, I can assure you he understands the critical importance of expanding trade opportunities making a great deal with China, Japan and other nations.
I also strongly support the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiated by the administration. The deal will boost opportunities for Minnesota’s exporters, especially agri-businesses. International trade supports 750,000 Minnesota jobs, and in 2017, our state exported $8.2 billion in goods and services to Canada and Mexico. Trade solutions, with Mexico, Canada, Japan, China and others, will give southern Minnesota great economic stability for the future.
I’m also advocating for farmers in other ways. When Secretary Perdue came before the Agriculture Committee this spring I urged him to remove the red tape affecting ethanol production. Year-round E15 would positively affect numerous farmers and hundreds of southern Minnesotans who perform high-wage jobs at ethanol plants.
In February, I joined 43 of my colleagues in writing House leadership about renewable fuels. We strongly advocated for a multi-year extension of biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentives to give certainty to this industry and support commodity prices.
We must also keep pushing for regulatory reform. Our farmers shouldn’t be saddled with burdensome regulations written by some bureaucrat in Washington who has never set foot on a farm. I support the REINS Act, which would require congressional approval for major rules written by the executive branch.
Finally, health care premiums are crippling farmers. I’ve talked to families paying more than $15,000 a year in premiums, with deductibles so outrageous the underlying insurance is virtually worthless. That is simply unacceptable.
I support patient-centered care that prioritizes the relationship between doctor and patient. Prior to Obamacare, over 90 percent of Minnesotans enjoyed insurance coverage. We had a high-risk pool, paid for by insurance companies, to cover pre-existing conditions. I am fighting for health care solutions to require price transparency, encourage nationwide competition, reduce the cost of prescription drugs and cover patients with pre-existing and expensive medical needs.
Thank you for the honor of serving you in Congress. Rest assured, I will always work hard and champion solutions to sustain agriculture and our southern Minnesota way of life.
Jim Hagedorn, R-Minnesota, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.