MSGA hosts roundtable with newly appointed Minnesota Senator

Sen. Tina Smith discusses agriculture, upcoming farm bill at Minnesota Soybean office

Newly appointed Sen. Tina Smith made her way to the Minnesota Soybean office Saturday afternoon to meet with farmers, agriculture leaders and staff.

“This is a really great opportunity for me to be able to talk with you all so early on in my new adventure as United States Senator,” Smith says.

Smith, who was joined by Minnesota agriculture commissioner Dave Frederickson, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)- Minnesota Farm Service Agency (FSA) appointee Joe Martin and Curtis Elke, USDA- Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) acting state conservationist, heard from a room full of leaders who represented grain, livestock, agriculture youth education, young farmers, solar energy and more.

“We were fortunate to get the call to host today’s meeting,” says former Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) President Paul Freeman, who farms near Starbuck, Minn. “It was a great format, allowing everyone to give their input on the upcoming legislative session and next farm bill.”

The top issues resonating with a majority of the farm groups and organizations represented included farmer health care, including affordability and accessibility, preserving the current farm bill with crop insurance as a priority, farmer mental health, animal health and disease outbreak, the current Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule for livestock drivers, along with the need for exports and market access.

“After today’s meeting, we realized how similar our issues are,” Freeman says. “From commodity to commodity, we were concerned about the same issues.”

Brad Hovel, MSGA director and farmer near Cannon Falls, Minn., says this meeting with the senator is only just the beginning.

“We need to have an open dialogue and be a resource,” Hovel says. “This meeting allowed us to give some insight into our priority issues. But we aren’t done. This only needs to continue.”

Saturday’s meeting at the Minnesota Soybean office in Mankato, Minn., came after Smith, who was sworn in last week as Minnesota’s newest senator, was named to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.