Finstad talks Farm Bill at SMSU event

Photo by Deb Gau U.S. Rep. Brad Finstad speaks with students and FFA advisors

MARSHALL — Congress will have an important job to do to pass a new Farm Bill this year. However, one of the positives is that legislators will be working from a strong framework, Rep. Brad Finstad said Friday.

“I think the good news is the current Farm Bill that is set to expire is a really good base bill to start,” Finstad said. “A lot of times in Congress when you have these big sweeping pieces of legislation, when you start from ground zero you have so much dancing and tightrope walking.” When it comes to the Farm Bill, he said, a lot of that work has already been done.

“We have a good bill to work on,” he said.

Finstad, who represents Minnesota’s First Congressional District, was in Marshall on Friday. He helped welcome FFA members from across the state to the Ag Bowl Scholarship Invitational event at Southwest Minnesota State University, toured the campus, and met with university officials.

“Your time here is an investment in yourself, it’s an investment in your future career, your future education. And it’s an investment in rural America,” Finstad told an audience of close to 1,200 students in grades 7-12. “In order for us to be strong advocates for rural America, we have to have a foundation of knowledge. And so what you’re doing here today is building on that foundation of knowledge. We need to tell our story.”

During his visit to SMSU, Finstad spoke with local reporters on topics including agriculture. Finstad currently serves on the House Agriculture Committee, and on Thursday was named chairman of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture and Horticulture.

“There will be a lot of opportunities for us to craft that component of the Farm Bill through that committee, and we can try to keep an eye on the future generation when it comes to trade,” Finstad said Friday. “Trade is not just a today issue. It’s what’s the next 10 years look like, and what’s the economy and the commodities that are actually globally trading? That all comes back to our backyard and creates opportunities.”

Finstad said other key priorities for the Farm bill include crop insurance and nutrition programs.

“I would say the number one priority should be to protect and enhance crop insurance. It has been the number one tool that’s created stability in farm country, but it’s also created stability in the government,” Finstad said. “We have these regional politics that play out with disaster aid, and it becomes really hard to get the farmers what they need, when they need it. So the crop insurance component has been just a really stabilizing force. We’ve got to make sure we protect that.”

He said the nutrition component of the Farm Bill is also important. “We have to make sure that that’s sustainable, that it’s accountable, that we have proper oversight and proper guard rails on that process.”

Finstad also commented on the recent news that SMSU entered a partnership with North Star Mutual Insurance to support the university’s business school. The partnership gives the Cottonwood, Minnesota-based insurance company naming rights for the school of business, and provides SMSU a $3 million investment in business education.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Finstad said. The partnership was a chance to encourage young people to stay in rural Minnesota, he said. “One of the things I tell people all the time is that we’ve done a really good job of exporting our number one asset of southern Minnesota for far too long, and that’s been our students.”

“The more we can do to show students that we have great education right here in our backyard, we have that education system that ties back to our economy, ties back to our jobs, ties back to opportunities, the better chance we’re going to have to keep these future leaders right here,” he said.


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