Peterson on farm bill: We still want to get this done

Photo by Deb Gau U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., attends the DFL Tailgate event at Justice Park in Marshall Saturday.

MARSHALL — U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D- Minn., hopped off his golf cart he used to travel down Main Street during Saturday morning’s Southwest Minnesota State University homecoming parade when he was asked about the farm bill negotiations.

“Did you see the picture of the four is us with arms locked?” Peterson asked.

He was referring to a photo that appeared in Agri Pulse that showed Peterson locked in arms with other members of the House and Senate Agriculture committee. Peterson, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas and Rep. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., had just emerged from a Washington, D.C., meeting. They declared that they are still working together a week after the 2014 Farm Bill expired.

“I went back to D.C. Wednesday and we met Thursday morning,” Peterson said. “We took a picture of the four of us with arms locked. And we still want to get this done.

“We still have some issues. Conaway wants to put some money in for cotton and he’s taking the money away from Stabenow. She’s wants to spend money on some programs Conaway hates. There are some issues on conservation and commodities between the two of them. Then we have the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) issue. The Senate is not going to do anything near what Conaway wants on SNAP. I keep telling him (Conaway) he should have never done this in the first place. He got himself in corner. So he still thinks He has to get all the Republicans to vote for this. It’s not going to happen”

Peterson expects the Farm Bill will get completed sometime after the midterm elections.

“I can deliver 100 Democrats if we do something close to what they did in the Senate, which is pretty good stuff, actually. Cleans up a lot of problems. So we had a good meeting, a good discussion with Conaway after the meeting Thursday. Yesterday I talked with Roberts for about an hour. I can see a path, but we are not there yet. The goal now is to get this done so that when we get back after the election, we are ready to go,” Peterson said.

The farmers, according to Peterson, realize not getting a farm bill done before December is “not the end of the world.” He said crop insurance is permanently authorized. He said the same holds true for SNAP.

“It’s going on no matter what we do,” he said.

Peterson said the farmers are more worried about this “tariff stuff.” He said they should be worried.

“I don’t see any good outcome. And I’m hope I’m wrong,” he said. “But I don’t see agriculture with anything but a downside. I’m really worried about this and we got enough trouble with prices the way they are and this China thing. He (President Donald Trump) keeps doubling down and doing more tariffs. And everybody says he has a plan, but I don’t see it. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.”


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