Senator Amy Klobuchar spoke as part of the Farmfest virtual “Current State of the Ag Economy” panel on Aug. 4. Presenting from her senate office in Washington D.C., Klobuchar proudly touted that she is one of the most-senior members of the Senate Ag Committee. That being her focus, she explained there’s a concerted effort to get some additional funding for ag in the senate.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, testing materials have at times been in short supply as they come from other countries. Klobuchar never wants to see our food supply in the United States be dependent upon other countries. “Congress needs to take action now to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply,” she said.
With that, Klobuchar believes not enough attention has been paid to the needs of rural areas and the vital role they play in sustaining this nation. “It gives us a really strong case to make, about why it’s so important that we have producers and growers in our own country.”
Klobuchar believes it’s not only the farm bill which is critical to our rural areas, but access to high speed internet as well. “Not only do we need a strong farm bill, but expanded broadband coverage. Kids in parts of rural America don’t have access to virtual learning right now due to the lack of high-speed broadband in areas. There’s a story in southern Minnesota of a kid taking her biology exam in a liquor store parking lot because it was the only place she could get that high speed. We’re working really hard to get some added funding in this next package when it comes to broadband,” Klobuchar said.
She recently met with Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson on what can be done — not just now for ag, but what needs to be done in the next year for the next farm bill. Klobuchar would like to see the focus on ag trade as well as insuring that the next farm bill is a good fit for farmers.
The CARES Act, also known as Coronavirus relief aid, has allocated $23.5 billion for farmers and others impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Klobuchar explained that 26,000 applications from Minnesota farmers have been approved. There has been $80 million for dairy, $73 million for row crops and $180 million for cattle and hogs. “We also know that there has been some trouble in getting that money out.” Klobuchar claimed she will continue to work to get that funding to farmers.
“We’ve seen recently that the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has declined to exercise their authority to provide assistance to growers of certain classes of wheat, livestock producers who have been impacted, there’s more we should do there.” Klobuchar is adamant in making sure that Minnesota farmers get their fair share.
In addition, Klobuchar said she will continue to fight to stop biofuels waivers as well as give voice to the dairy industry. “We know that we’ve lost so many of our small dairy farms and we are going to keep working on that front.”
Klobuchar finished her Farmfest talk by acknowledging the vital work those in the ag industry have done and continue to do day after day. “As challenging as all this is, I just get inspired by what I know you are all going through every day, by the work of not just our leaders in the ag area, but also those on the front line that are working hard every single day. We know there’s more to be done. I’m ready to have your back to do it.”