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Published February 24, 2014, 09:38 AM

Klobuchar: Urban support high for farm bill

Urban Minnesota residents generally are supportive of the new farm bill, says Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Urban Minnesota residents generally are supportive of the new farm bill, says Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

But passing another farm bill in five years will be more difficult, and the effort will require greater cooperation among farm groups, she adds.

“More working together would be good,” she says.

Klobuchar spoke with the news media after a tour of Mayo Manufacturing in East Grand Forks, Minn. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., whose district includes East Grand Forks, had been scheduled to attend, too, but travel difficulties caused him and Klobuchar to split their schedules.

Both Klobuchar and Peterson were members of the Congressional conference committee that fine-tuned the farm bill, the centerpiece of U.S. agricultural and food policy. Klobuchar praised Peterson’s efforts on the farm bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law Feb. 7.

She also notes that she helped secure increased research funding for specialty crops, including potatoes. Mayo Manufacturing makes potato and vegetable handling equipment.

U.S. agricultural groups say the long-delayed farm bill, while imperfect, is good for U.S. agriculture and the country in general. Many involved in agriculture, however, are concerned that federal farm programs continue to lose political support from nonfarmers.

Klobuchar says some of her big-city constituents had a number of concerns about the farm bill, including subsidies and conservation requirements.

But the farm bill, as approved, generally addressed those concerns satisfactorily, she says.

Farm group officials expect to start preliminary work on another five-year bill in three or four years. Many in agriculture expect more difficulty in passing the next one, with farm bill critics gathering even more clout.

Klobuchar shares that concern.

“I think it will be harder, but I think we can get it done,” she says.

Historically, farm groups often have differed among themselves on farm provisions, complicating efforts to pass legislation.

Such disagreements weren’t as common this time, Klobuchar says.

She notes that the Farmers Union and Farm Bureau, two influential farm organizations with different views on trade and economics, among other issues, “worked together pretty well” on the new farm bill.