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Time for change in District 16A

To the editor:

Just a few days ago, the Land Stewardship Project held a public meeting with the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture and the Minnesota Attorney General. Farmers from southern Minnesota explained how they are suffering through an economic crisis that has reached almost six years. Right now, farms cannot bring in enough income to cover the costs of planting crops and raising livestock.

The results have been devastating. Many farmers are living on the same income as 15 years ago. In 2019, 30 Minnesota farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy, a provision designed specifically for family farmers. Farm bankruptcies have increased dramatically. In fact, since 2016, the number of farmers who have filed for bankruptcy in Minnesota has increased by 120%. And because of the financial stress, younger generations are turning away from the family business and older farmers are dying by suicide in staggering numbers.

This is something we’ve known about for years. Farmers aren’t getting a fair price for their goods, corporate monopolies and cooperatives are taking over, and health care is simply unaffordable. The Land Stewardship Project is calling for a doubling of farm advocates, a program launched during the 1980’s farm crisis. Other policy requests include more money to provide legal assistance to farmers in financial trouble, and for the state to pick up loan origination fees to help both farmers and banks through restructuring.

But this is something we should have handled years ago. We should never have been in this situation. We have entrusted our legislators to work together and find solutions to the challenges rural Minnesota faces. Our representatives in southwest Minnesota have failed us. I think it is time for a change. That is why in November I’ll be voting for Doria Drost to represent District 16A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. We need new leadership. I’m frustrated with empty promises and failed attempts to find solutions for rural Minnesota. Enough waiting. We can’t wait any longer. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for solutions. Now is the time for change.

Ben Walker

Marshall

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