Farm Progress

Candidates weigh in on anti-ag groups, health care, proposed dairy research facility.

Paula Mohr, Editor, The Farmer

December 10, 2010

4 Min Read

The campaigns of the three major candidates for Minnesota governor has been heating up these last few weeks. Deficit-slashing details have been slow to surface. And partisanship remains as strong as ever.

The Farmer contacted the campaign staffs of candidates Mark Dayton (Democratic-Farmer-Labor), Tom Emmer (Republican) and Tom Horner (Independent) and asked them to provide answers to several questions. See the October issue for more on this story.

Here are the rest of the candidates' responses.

The Humane Society of the United States is actively working and has been successful in banning certain livestock-raising practices in some states—i.e.—hen cages, sow crates. What steps would you take to protect Minnesota livestock producers from such actions of animal activists?
Dayton: I strongly support livestock production in Minnesota, as I proved when I served on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. I will oppose and veto any attempts to eliminate healthy production and processing of livestock in Minnesota.
Emmer: Minnesota livestock producers and their families exhibit care for their animals on a daily basis – after all, it's in their interest to make sure they have healthy animals, both because they care about their animals and their livelihood depends on it. Minnesota farmers are stewards of our natural resources, including our livestock. Our administration will vigorously oppose any and all efforts to impose an extreme animal-rights agenda on our livestock producers.
Horner: Minnesota livestock producers need to continue to work with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota to continue to develop the best practices for the industry. Through increased investment in research at the University of Minnesota, producers can show that regulations are sound, scientifically based and designed to promote the health of the animals, the agriculture industry and food that reaches the dinner table.

Will you continue to reject federal funds for state programs as Gov. Pawlenty has done? Yes or no.
Dayton: No. I will accept federal funds, if they will help improve the quality of life for Minnesotans, and if they do not come with "unfunded mandates" that will prove more costly for state or local governments.
Emmer: It depends upon what strings are attached to the funding.
Horner: Most Minnesotans — including me — agree that federal spending needs to be controlled. But rejecting good investments in health care doesn't save money, it just transfers the cost to small businesses, to the insurance premiums many of us pay and, in some cases, to property taxes. It's a lose-lose for Minnesotans — we pay higher health care costs as more people end up in emergency rooms with more serious health issues and we lose the opportunity to leverage the state's health care leadership to make health care lower cost and higher quality.

Do you support the Cooperative Network's health care cooperative as an option for farmers? Yes or no.
Dayton: YES.
Emmer: Yes. It always makes sense to empower individuals and groups to work together.
Horner: Health care costs are a challenge for business and government alike. However, creating mandates and sector specific pools isn't the answer. Access to the highest quality health care at an affordable cost is the right of every Minnesotan. The state needs to provide the tools for people to take personal responsibility for their health. Health care in Minnesota should not just be examined from the individual view points of the provider, hospital, insurance company or patient but rather how these stakeholders can work together to improve the overall health of its citizens, which in turn, leads to the success, quality of life, and productive business climate of the entire state.

During the next legislative session, will you support the allocation of state bond proceeds and/or general fund appropriations to help plan, develop and construct a Dairy Research Training and Consumer Education Center, as proposed by the Minnesota Milk Producers Association? Yes or no.
Dayton: BOTH DEFINITELY YES, in my 2011 Bonding Bill.
Emmer: The budget situation precludes general fund spending on this type of project this biennium. However, as the ethanol producer deficiency payments wind down, I am open to the idea of using the agriculture money that is freed up to reinvest in the agriculture industry for research, education and training. However, it is up to the agriculture community to come together and determine which projects to prioritize.
Horner: We need to fund applied research at the University of Minnesota and other higher education institutions as a separate line item in the state budget. Minnesota must become the Knowledge State. Innovations and new technologies that come from the University add value to the entire state. The proposed bioscience corridor in southern Minnesota, the wind/energy research at the University of Minnesota-Morris, the solar research at Minnesota State University-Mankato, the agro-science research at the University of Minnesota-St. Paul are a few examples of Minnesota innovation on the verge of prominence.

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Mohr is former editor of The Farmer.

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