As Minnesota farm organizations that are active in advocating for farm policy, we are often asked questions by our members and other farmers about candidates running for public office. Especially in these difficult times of economic stress on the farm, farmers want to know which candidates “have their back” and will work to materially improve farm policy if elected.
This year, we are getting a lot of questions about the 7th Congressional District race in western Minnesota where Collin Peterson is seeking reelection. While this commentary is not intended as a formal endorsement of U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson by our organizations (because some of our organizations do not endorse federal candidates), we thought it would be helpful for us to put our collective views on the record.
To state our view simply: Collin Peterson is a powerful voice for Minnesota agriculture and losing his leadership in Washington would be a blow to farm families and our rural economy.
Congressman Peterson currently chairs the House Agriculture Committee, the most powerful House committee in the U.S. Congress when it comes to shaping national agriculture and farm policy. Whether Peterson has served as chair of the Ag Committee or the ranking member, he has played a highly influential and central role in writing the last three farm bills enacted in the last 12 years. Minnesota has not had someone in Washington, D.C., in such a powerful position to influence farm policy in decades.
While Chairman Peterson, in his leadership role, needs to try and accommodate the competing interests of farmers across the entire country, he has always demonstrated that the needs of Minnesota farmers and those in his district are a priority. Make no mistake, the big controversies in national farm policy, more often than not, are regional — Minnesota and other upper Midwest states must retain an experienced and strong advocate for our interests.
Our respective organizations don’t agree on every farm issue, but we all have had great success in working together with Chairman Peterson on behalf of Minnesota farm interests, whether they be major farm bills or other important legislation impacting farmers and rural communities. We value the fact that Chairman Peterson makes farm policy based on what’s good for agriculture and farmers vs. what’s good for partisan political interests.
Among some of the critical issues where Chairman Peterson has taken the lead include bringing attention to the crisis livestock farmers faced with packing plant closures during COVID-19 and led relief efforts. Chairman Peterson created and championed farm bill programs that mitigate risk and maintain a strong safety net for farmers to withstand market disruption or weather events beyond their control. He has been unabashed in his support and advocacy for renewable fuels that create jobs and economic opportunity in rural communities.
We hope this information is helpful to voters in the 7th Congressional District as you evaluate candidates for your vote in this November’s general election. Regardless of who you support, it is critically important for all Minnesota farmers and rural residents to vote this year. At a time when the interests of farmers and rural communities can get marginalized, a large turnout among rural voters helps us have a more influential voice with state and federal policymakers.
These nine commodity organizations — Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Barley Growers Association, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Chicken and Egg Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Minnesota Pork Producers Association, Minnesota Turf Seed Council and Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers, Minnesota Chicken and Egg Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Minnesota Pork Producers Association, Minnesota Turf Seed Council and Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers — have come together in this jointly authored op-ed highlighting Rep. Peterson’s leadership in Washington on behalf of the state’s ag sector.