Bob Worth has visited with dozens of state and federal officials in his decades of farmer advocacy. On July 31, he notched another advocacy milestone by hosting his first U.S. senator on his Lake Benton farm when Sen. Amy Klobuchar paid a visit in the lead up to the 2023 Farmfest.
“Anytime you get the chance to have a leader like Senator Klobuchar on your farm, it’s an honor,” Worth said. “She’s been a big supporter of agriculture during her years in Washington, D.C., and it’s a thrill to have her out here to show her how we farm and talk about some of our priorities and concerns.”
Worth, his son, Jon, and wife, Gail, gave the senator – who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee and is next in line to become chair – a tour of their farm shop. The Worths explained how rising equipment costs pose challenges to the incoming generation. The Worths have farmed the land since 1955, and this year marked Bob’s 53rd year of farming.
“That’s why we’re struggling to get new, young farmers into this occupation because it’s so expensive to buy new things,” Worth told the senator.
Worth was joined by fellow Lincoln County farmers Joel Schreurs, who sits on the American Soybean Association, and MSGA Director Brian Fruechte, along with MSGA Executive Director Joe Smentek.
The Farm Bill, which expires Sept. 30, was a key discussion point throughout Sen. Klobuchar’s hour-long visit to Worth Farms. The senator and MSGA leaders exchanged ideas on how to improve the Farm Bill. Directors also thanked the senator for supporting increases to the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMD), which haven’t seen a boost in funding in 20 years.
“Our main goal is to keep what’s good about the Farm Bill and get it done and make it as strong as we possibly can,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “There’s interest in making some changes, but we want to make sure we get it passed.”
ASA is urging legislators to increase budget authority for the next farm bill, which is justified in this current environment marked by economic and geopolitical volatility. Additional resources are needed to address needs and interests throughout this comprehensive piece of legislation.
“We do need new money into the Farm Bill,” Smentek said. “It’s chronically underfunded.”
The conversation later shifted to biodiesel. Sen. Klobuchar has long been a supporter of biodiesel, and her leadership contributed to $500 million in biofuels infrastructure being included in the Inflation Reduction Act.
“It’s very important to keep biofuels strong, and biofuels are good for the environment,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “Sometimes people think it’s a boutique collection, but biofuels are a huge percentage of our fuel supply.”
To cap her visit, Klobuchar took a closer look at the Worths’ soybean crop, which was mired in its third year of drought conditions. Still, the senator found the miracle bean a sight to behold.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “You gotta love a soybean plant.”
As Sen. Klobuchar departed, Smentek joked that, if she were to consider another run for president down the line, she should consider returning to Worth’s farm for the announcement.
“It would be a good backdrop!” she said.
Worth will welcome another agriculture leader to his farm on Aug. 22 when he hosts Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, who will officially enroll Worth in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program.