GMO labeling a concern in upcoming legislative session
Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., along with local representatives, addressed more than 40 farmers and agricultural business partners at the Kandiyohi County Corn & Soybean Growers Legislative Update Meeting Feb. 19 at the Minnesota West Technology Campus in Willmar. The event was co-hosted with the Kandiyohi County Farm Bureau.
Rep. Peterson represents Minnesota in the 7th Congressional District and serves as ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee
“I think the biggest issue we have is something we don’t have any jurisdiction over in the Ag committee,” Peterson said. “The biggest issue facing agriculture is the GMO issue, and I’m not sure people have focused in on that as much as they need to or should.”
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 passed in the house, 275-150, which would call for a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients. The legislation was initially presented by the House Energy and Commerce committee.
“In my opinion, it could literally put some of our guys out of business if we don’t get this done right,” Peterson said.
Rep. Peterson discussed what this means for farmers in Minnesota, a state which is also home to a number of large food processing companies. Peterson said he has been in contact with many large food companies who have said if there is a mandatory label, they would start sourcing non-GMO ingredients, even if that means importing.
“I think it is good for people to know what is in their food but there’s nothing wrong with these GMO products,” Peterson said.
In addition to Rep. Peterson’s updates, local representatives: Tim Miller (R), District 17A; Dave Baker (R), District 17B and Paul Anderson (R), District 12B talked about state issues as they look toward the upcoming Minnesota Legislative Session, beginning March 8.
Rep. Baker discussed the committees he serves on and highlighted three priorities heading into the session, which will include transportation,the bonding and tax bill. Rep. Baker and Rep. Anderson discussed the potential tax bill and its benefits to farmland in school districts with capital improvement referendums.
Rep. Miller provided details about the upcoming Gov. Dayton’s Water Summit. He also highlighted the committees he serves on, including the Agriculture Finance, Aging and Long-term Care Policy, Greater MN Economic and Workforce Development Policy, and Legacy Funding Finance.
Rep. Anderson briefly discussed buffer legislation as it applies to enforcement and potential modifications to the legislation in the next session. He cautioned farmers to be careful when considering alternatives to buffers, including RIM easements and CRP enrollments. Rep. Anderson in the chair of the Agriculture Policy committee and is also a member of the Agriculture Finance, Education Finance, and Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division.