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Column: Getting back to work should include passing Farm Bill

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Column: Getting back to work should include passing Farm Bill
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

By U.S. Rep. Tim Walz

WASHINGTON — Dysfunction and extreme ideology have sat like a black cloud over Washington for far too long. Last month, we saw the height of this storm when a small band of hardline lawmakers forced the government into a reckless shutdown and threatened the full faith and credit of the United States. This manufactured crisis did great damage to our economy and the American people’s faith in democracy.

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The good news is that the clouds are parting and America’s best days lie ahead. Our nation is defined by an unshakeable belief that we, the people, have the ability to control our own destiny. A belief that anyone can reach out and grab opportunity and create a more prosperous future for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren.

The Farm Bill presents a perfect chance to uphold this bedrock American principle, restore the American people’s faith in democracy, reinvigorate our economy and expand opportunity in rural America.

Southern Minnesota has a rich and proud history of agriculture production. When farmers do well, local businesses do well. Farmers spend their money on Main Street, at the grocery or hardware store, out to eat at the corner café, or buying new furniture and appliances. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, agriculture supports over 340,000 Minnesota jobs. Put simply, Minnesota’s economy relies on a strong agricultural economy.

That is why it is vitally important that we get a Farm Bill done, and get it done now.

I am honored to work with southern Minnesotans and my colleagues in Congress, including Representative Peterson and Senator Klobuchar, to craft a final, bipartisan Farm Bill in the coming weeks and months.

As a Farm Bill negotiator, I will work diligently to ensure southern Minnesota’s interests are served, including:

* A strong energy title that supports renewable development, expands American-made energy, and increases energy access in rural America;

* Strong legislation ensuring that beginning farmers and ranchers — the next generation that will feed the world —have the tools they need to succeed; and

* Strong conservation measures that allow farmers to use their land as they see fit, while still protecting critical wildlife and hunting habitats.

The Farm Bill has traditionally been one of the great bipartisan compromises in Congress.

It brings together folks of all political stripes and affiliations: Republicans, Democrats and Independents, from both rural and urban districts. It is a place where pragmatic problem solving trumps partisan ideology. A place where reasonable solutions reign supreme.

Let us again work together to take control of our destiny by passing a Farm Bill that creates opportunity and prosperity in rural America. I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get the job done.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz represents Minnesota’s First Congressional District in Congress. He is the ranking member of the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry and has been appointed to serve on the bipartisan, bicameral Farm Bill Conference Committee.