A week after the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) recognized Rep. Angie Craig (along with her colleague Rep. Brad Finstad) with the inaugural Sprit of MSGA Award, a team of directors hand delivered the plaque to Rep. Craig during a meeting in Dakota County with the congresswoman and her legislative team.
“I can’t believe you drove three and a half hours to see me!” Rep. Craig told MSGA President Bob Worth, who traveled from his home in Lake Benton. “You know I would’ve been (at MN Ag Expo) in person, but we were in session.”
Worth was accompanied by Vice President Darin Johnson, Treasurer Ryan Mackenthun and American Soybean Association Director Jeff Sorenson. Before visiting with Rep. Craig, the MSGA team met with Craig’s legislative assistants Suzie Cavalier and Les Anderson, who both advise the congresswoman on agriculture issues.
“We thank you for all the work you do for all farmers,” Worth told Rep. Craig. “We really do appreciate it.”
Growers met with Cavalier to discuss Farm Bill priorities and concerns about the status of the legislation, which saw a one-year extension last fall. Lawmakers are hopeful for a legislative markup by late spring or early summer. But time is tight: Congress is expected to shift into campaign mode within months, making a compromise even less likely. Still, MSGA and Craig’s team are cautiously optimistic.
“We hope to have two bills that go to conference,” Cavalier said.
Mackenthun emphasized to Cavalier the current volatility of the soybean market; a new Farm Bill, he said, would help give growers assurances.
“We’re planting below the cost of production right now,” he said. “We’re going to be planting with good faith this spring.”
Worth said improving crop insurance and ad hoc programs would also give growers certainty.
“That safety net is so important,” Worth said. “That would be a huge step forward.”
Advocates also urged Rep. Craig to co-sponsor HR 6681 (Ocean-Going Vessels Act), which amends the Clean Air Act to include fuel for ocean-going vessels and would benefit biofuels and shipping via the Great Lakes/Port of Duluth-Superior.
“This legislation would be great for biofuels, for agriculture and our economy and national security,” Johnson said. “Biofuels are going to play a huge role moving forward.”
The group also underscored the need to promote the next generation of farmers through tax credits and making land transition smoother.
“If we can’t get young farmers into agriculture, we’re in trouble,” said Worth, who’s been farming for more than 50 years. ‘We need to show the next generation that there’s a future in farming.”
To wrap up the meeting, MSGA directors thanked Rep. Craig and her team for introducing the Farmers First Act, which would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) and ensure rural communities have access to certified community behavioral health clinics, critical access hospitals and rural health centers.
“We appreciate all the ways in which Rep. Craig is supporting our industry,” Johnson said. “We can all see by her actions that she’s supportive of farmers.”
MSGA plans to present Rep. Finstad with his award in March during Hill Visits with the American Soybean Association in Washington. D.C.