GILFILLAN?ESTATE?- Following a tradition as old as the event, Gov. Mark Dayton opened the 2011 Farmfest forums on Tuesday in the sweltering forum tent.
"Where else can you be 20 degrees hotter inside than outside?" Dayton said.
Dayton told the audience he was the great-grandson of farmers who moved to Minnesota from New York state. He pointed out agriculture was the second largest economic sector in the state after manufacturing. In Minnesota there are about 360,000 farm jobs, or about one in five of all jobs.
Photo by Steve Browne
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton answers questions from the media Tuesday after speaking at Farmfest.
"In Minnesota the Department of Agriculture was the only budget approved during the regular legislative session," Dayton said. "There is a broad bipartisan recognition of the importance of agriculture to Minnesota."
But, Dayton said, though Minnesota is sixth in the nation in agricultural production, it is only seventh in agricultural exports. The top five destinations of the state's agricultural production as of 2008, are in order: Mexico, Japan, China, Canada, and South Korea.
Dayton spoke of his seven trips to China to promote Minnesota exports, and upcoming trips to China and Korea, where food production has not kept up with population growth.
"Here we say the fields are planted fence row to fence row," Dayton said. "In China it's roadside to bedside."
The first-term Democratic governor, who was locked in a drawn-out battle with a Republican-controlled Legislature during the 2011 session that led to a government shutdown, said he favored raising tax revenues by raising taxes on those making more than a $1 million a year, and working with legislators to streamline agricultural regulations and make them easier to understand.
"And if you're getting the runaround," Dayton said, "give me a call at my home, 651-201-3469."