Northfield and several communities in Southern Minnesota experienced unprecedented flooding due to the heavy rains this past weekend. So many community members, college and high school students and staff, shop owners and neighbors, joined together to help where needed. Sandbagging, distributing food and water, moving furniture and goods… a real lesson in civic participation …people coming together to do their best to hold off Mother Nature. Unfortunately, the river found its way over and around many of the man-made barriers, creating its own path to the Mississippi river leaving several homes and businesses in ruins. The National Guard stepped in early and stayed through much of the cleanup…which continues. City councils, homeowners, and business owners are assessing the needs and deciding what the next step will be. Cities and counties have been declared disaster areas. FEMA is assessing the damages in homes and businesses town by town. Governor Pawlenty has called for a special session to be held sometime around October 7-12. We will do our best, appropriating federal and state funds, to help our citizens and communities get back on their feet.
This past Wednesday I was part of an Ag forum in New Prague to talk about Agriculture issues affecting District 25. Independent candidate John Grimm and Republican candidate Al DeKruif were also present at the forum sponsored by LeSueur County Farm Bureau, Pork Producers, Corn and Soybean Producers, and the Dairy Industry.
I am proud of the work I have done for district 25 and greater Minnesota. The Eminent Domain bill I authored in the Senate and eventually signed into law puts landowners and farmers on a much fairer playing field when dealing with the public utilities such as the CapX2020 project and the pipelines a few years ago. It was a bipartisan effort that involved a lot of local citizens who have been directly affected by the Public Utility exemption in the past.
I was the chief author of the bonding bill that sent $5 million dollars to the Minnesota Prairie Line railroad, a short line rail that is vital to the ag industry on the western side of my district.
On a broader scale, I believe agriculture policies must be enacted to allow farmers to receive a fair price through open markets. We need to create incentives and programs that encourage young people to become farmers. It is critical to maintain Minnesota’s family farm system of agriculture. Minnesota must be proactive in meeting the growing consumer demand for food that is family farm raised, locally grown, and identity preserved. We need to promote farming that benefits the environment. And finally, we need strong local communities that depend on strong local control. We should protect rural democracy. Local governments must maintain the right to put in place and enforce local planning and zoning ordinances.