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Letter: EDC needs a new approach

Misrepresentations, misstatements, and outright lies demand my response.

Farmers like Kim Larson, who characterize any questioning of government farm supports as attacks on farming’s heritage and way of life, may explain why the farm bill is stuck in Congress. Questioning EDC farm supports doesn’t make one “anti-farming” any more than discussing race relations makes one a racist.

So let’s get to the facts.

The public minutes of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission executive board’s vote on the 2014 budget is clear. Two of three Willmar representatives, Councilman Steve Ahmann and Councilman Ron Christianson, opposed the ag-heavy $455,000 budget and $700,00 reserve fund, and rightly so. The rush to approval was led by County Commissioners Harlan Madsen and Dean Shuck and Councilman Denis Anderson. What do these three have in common? Political muscle and income made from agriculture. As to Mr. Larson: The organization Environmental Working Group has tracked farm subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 1995. It reports Kim P. Larson has received federal subsidies of nearly $500,000. He also worked as an agricultural specialist to — you guessed it — the EDC. As for Willmar’s economy, anyone with a 401(k) retirement plan knows it’s foolhardy to invest the entire nest egg in one or two stocks.

Kandiyohi County must expand beyond agriculture.

According to the Star Tribune, in just two years, the net income of Minnesota’s farm industry grew from $4.5 billion in 2010 to $8.2 billion in 2012. That’s an 82 percent growth in income. This is a blessing to the entire state, but it certainly does not justify additional EDC government aid.

New success stories in new industries should be our goal.