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Guest column: Fighting for farmers, rural opportunity is crucial

Guest column by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Last year, so many Americans found new appreciation for the work farmers and ranchers do to hold our food supply chain together. And there is much more that we must do in Congress to make sure that this important work is supported.

Amy Klobuchar

When I first came to the Senate, my No. 1 request was to be on the Agriculture Committee. The reason was simple: I wanted to work on behalf of our rural communities. Even in the face of tough times — a global pandemic, volatile energy and commodity markets, and extreme weather events like droughts and wildfires — our farmers have risen to the challenge of feeding the world, fueling our country and powering our economy.

As one of the nation’s largest agricultural producing states, Minnesota is home to 67,500 farms that contribute almost $17 billion to our state economy each year. The economic well-being of our state and country is tied to them, and we have to do everything we can to help them succeed.

That means making sure we have policies to protect farmers against extreme weather, emerging animal diseases and market failures. Growing crops and raising livestock can be unpredictable — farmers make large capital investments in seed, livestock, buildings and equipment, and sometimes face heavy losses due to circumstances beyond their control.

As we saw over the past year, these circumstances can cause major disruptions in the food supply chain that hurt the agricultural economy and rural families. That’s why I worked to make certain that farmers and rural communities had the support and resources necessary to address the effects of the pandemic.

When we support farmers and ranchers, we ensure the continuity of the agricultural supply chain, helping all workers as well as small businesses. That is why, as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have worked hard to craft federal farm policy in the last three Farm Bills — in 2008, 2014 and 2018. I am committed to continue working to strengthen the farm safety net by protecting the crop insurance program, providing new tools to conserve and restore our land and forests, investing in small towns and rural communities, supporting beginning farmers and making bipartisan reforms to reduce unnecessary requirements and cut red tape.

I am also working to make sure Minnesota continues to lead in producing homegrown, farm-based energy by working across the aisle to invest in our biofuel infrastructure and encouraging the Biden administration to restore confidence and integrity in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Investing in biofuels means cleaner air and lower gas prices. This is good agricultural policy, good environmental policy and good economic policy.

President Eisenhower famously said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” But our Minnesota farmers know better. That’s why it’s crucial for elected officials to put politics aside, listen to the needs of our farmers and act in a bipartisan way to make sure their priorities are met. I’m proud to be your partner in Washington, working to expand rural opportunity.

Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, is a U.S. senator.