Minnesota’s West Metro Republicans Say They’ll Serve Greater Minnesota by Silencing Its Citizens
On the other side, a new group called A Greater Minnesota (AGM) retained the services of Himle Rapp & Co. The new outfit was formed by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, among other existing agriculture interest groups. AGM also involved itself in electoral politics, challenging legislative candidates to sign its “five-point pledge.” The group’s opposition to “pseudo-science labeling proposals regarding GMOs” was one element of that policy platform. Other points call for environmental policies “based on sound science … [which] do not put Minnesota farmers and companies at a competitive disadvantage,” as well as “responsible
regulation and … voluntary practices” from farmers to insure food safety.
Perry Aasness, executive director of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, also pointed out that several dozen newly elected
members had taken the five-point pledge.
“I think the message, hopefully, that both parties took from [the AGM campaign] is that rural Minnesota, and these food and agriculture issues, they shouldn’t be ignored,” Aasness said.
That “Minnesota Agri-Growth Council”? It claims to be a “bipartisan” rural farming advocacy group, but the Twin-Cities-based outfit seems to be all about telling its newly-purchased-and-soon-to-be-installed Republican legislators what they should back — which seems to be factory farms and sewage lagoons the size of Rhode Island. Sustainable ag practitioners like the fine folks behind Stand for Food? They don’t count as “real” ag, according to State Senator Julie Rosen of the secretive Senate Rural Task Force, which keeps no minutes and doesn’t make audio or video recordings of its meetings. Rosen vastly prefers 8,860-cow dairy factories. (Of course, she doesn’t have to actually live next to stinky, polluting CAFOs. She lives in a huge 5700-plus-square-foot mansion in the Twin Cities suburb of Mendota Heights, whereas her official home in the rural district she claims to represent is barely 800 square feet.) Meanwhile, AGM, which claims to be equally for organic as well as non-organic farming, didn’t raise a peep of protest when Rosen went on the attack against sustainable agriculture. Quelle surprise.
But the silence of AGM and MA-GC over Rosen’s declaring war on sustainable ag is as nothing compared to the silence they wish to impose on rural Minnesotans and anyone who’d rather not see such things as gigantic dairy farm sewage lagoons rupturing and polluting their groundwater. Their pet politicians stated this desire well before the election, and now that they control the Minnesota House, they are gearing up to gag us all unless we head ’em off at the pass. Here’s what local good guys, the Land Stewardship Project, suggests we do to fight this:
Calls Needed by Monday, Dec. 8
The Minnesota Senate Rural Task Force met on Nov. 12 to discuss rural Minnesota initiatives that could be brought up during the state legislative session that begins Jan. 6. On a short list of three agenda items was “Rural Permitting Discussion.” This “discussion” focused on corporate ag advocates attacking local control of factory farms and the recent decision by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Citizens’ Board to order an in-depth environmental review on an 8,800+ cow dairy in Stevens County.
Proposal for Weakening Local Control Laid Out in Detail
The Task Force heard a presentation from David Ward, lobbyist for the Cooperative Network, on why local control of factory farms needs to be gutted in Minnesota, just as it was in Wisconsin in 2004. Ward knows how that was done, as he is a former Wisconsin legislator who was a key author of the Wisconsin bill that created a system where state standards trump township and county local control. Ward went through a 39-slide detailed PowerPoint presentation without any legislator voicing strong concerns or standing up for local control.
Family Farms Dismissed & 8,850-Cow Dairy Called “Real Ag”
During the Task Force meeting, the executive director of the Agri-Growth Council, the lobbying entity for the state’s largest corporate agriculture interests, bemoaned the MPCA Citizens’ Board’s decision to order an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement of a 8,800+ cow dairy. This dairy would use almost 100 million gallons of water a year and is strongly opposed by its rural neighbors. Even worse, comparing a 320-acre farm of one member of the MPCA Citizens’ Board who raises crops and beef to this mega-dairy, Task Force member Sen. Julie Rosen said, “That’s not real ag. This is real ag.”
Take Action by Monday, Dec. 8
Contact members of the Senate Rural Task Force before Monday, Dec. 8. The next and last meeting of the Senate Rural Task Force before the legislative session is Monday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. in Room 112 of the Capitol Building in Saint Paul.
Members of the Senate Rural Task Force
- Sen.Tom Saxhaug, Chair (DFL-Grand Rapids), 651-296-4136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Julie Rosen, Co-founder of the Task Force (R-Vernon Center), 651-296-5713 or email@example.com
- Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), 651-296-3205 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield), 651-296-1279 or use mail form
- Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna), 651-296-9457 or use mail form
- Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa), 651-296-4875 or email@example.com
- Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), 651-296-5650 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls), 651-296-8138 or email@example.com
“I was disappointed to learn that the Senate Rural Task Force, of which you are a member, discussed weakening rural local control at your Nov. 12 meeting. Local control is especially important for rural Minnesota and needs to be kept strong. The Wisconsin livestock siting law where state-set standards trump township and county local control is wrong for Minnesota, where we believe in strong local democracy. Also, the decision to order an Environmental Impact Statement on the 8,800-cow mega-dairy proposed in Stevens County was a good one. This dairy would use almost 100 million gallons of water a year. That issue alone needs an in-depth analysis. Water availability is an increasingly critical issue in rural Minnesota.” If you are a rural resident or farmer, be sure to say so.