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Senator Al Franken's (D. MN) been making the rounds in his home state of Minnesota talking about what congress' priorities should be.  One of the top priorities he said should be a five year farm bill.  Franken talked about the farm bill with farmers in St. Charles on Saturday:

Farmers and agriculture leaders filled St. Charles City Hall on Saturday morning for U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who visited the area to discuss the necessity of putting a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill before Congress.

The Minnesota Democrat greeted every attendee and thanked them for their participation in the early-morning meeting. Once everyone was settled, he took his seat in the front of the room and began the hour-long discussion.

“I’m very moved by how hard our farmers work and all the things our farmers do,” Franken said. “Growing up, I knew absolutely nothing about farming.”

Franken spent much of the meeting addressing farmers’ concerns about the U.S. House’s decision to approve a one-year extension to the bill, and their lack of certainty when is comes to agricultural funding. Franken is pushing for movement on a five-year bill, which the Senate approved last year before it died in the House.

“That’s really why I’m here,” Franken said. “I want to hear from you.” - Winona Daily News, 2/9/13

He also stopped by Alberta Lee to talk to more farmers in the area and he sounded optimistic about a five year farm bill finally being passed this year:

A group of about 20 people met at 4 p.m. at Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services for the discussion. Franken told the group he wished the farm bill had been passed in the House of Representatives, because it had passed in the Senate last June. As it stands, a temporary extension of the farm bill was passed Jan. 1, and it expires in September. He’s hopeful the House will again discuss the bill and, eventually, a five-year farm bill could be passed.

“There is a different feeling in Washington to me that leads me to believe the House will take it up again,” Franken said.

The senator told the group he feels farming is a national security issue, which is why it’s something he’s concerned about.

“We need people to know how to grow food,” Franken said. - Austin Daily Herald, 2/11/13

Franken had been listening to farmers concerns at the Freeborn-Mower Cooperative:

One of the stops was at the Freeborn-Mower Cooperative. Senator Franken answered questions and addressed concerns about the future of a farm bill.  

"The farmers I talk to want that certainty and want to be able to plan and that's why this nine month extension was such a disappointment,” said Franken.

A disappointment to farmers like Jack Korman.  

"Farming's such a big investment these days dollar wise. It'd be nice to have some continuity and a little planning. Farming’s a year to year business, but you're always thinking ahead so to have a five year farm bill, would give you more stability in your planning, make things a little easier,” said Korman. - KAA:tv, 2/9/13

Franken is pushing to get a farm bill passed this year because uncertainty about congressional action is hurting farmers and ranchers:

Paul DeBriyn, of AgStar Financial Services, said farmers are facing the rising cost of inputs like land, machinery and equipment as well as another year of possible weather disasters, making it important for them to have certainty about farm policy and about the farm safety net before they invest thousands, even millions of dollars in their operations.

He also said the lack of a five-year Farm Bill is hurting young and beginning farmers, many of whom have seen their applications for guarantees at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office go unprocessed due to the uncertainty of federal farm funding. - Political News, 2/11/13

Minnesota is a big farm state and Franken understands perfectly why a five year farm bill is necessary for economic stability.  Before he left for the weekend, Franken talked with local farmers on the phone and assured him he will fight to make a five year farm bill a reality this year:

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said today that Congress needs to make enactment of a five-year Farm Bill a top priority this year to give farmers and ranchers in Minnesota and across the country the certainty they need to plan for future operations.

In a conference call with Minnesota reporters Thursday, Sen. Franken said he's backing a new five-year Senate measure that was introduced by Senate leaders as a priority bill when the new Congress began last month. Currently, federal farm policy is governed by a temporary Farm Bill extension that expires in September.

Joining Sen. Franken on the call was Paul DeBriyn, President and CEO of AgStar Financial Services, who outlined some of the difficulties that uncertainty over future farm policy poses for producers in Minnesota and across the country.

"I'm very disappointed in the temporary measure we were forced to enact last year," Sen. Franken said. "Not only does it lack the certainty our farm community needs in order to plan, but it also shortchanges investments in conservation and energy programs, assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers, and a number of other important programs. The new five-year Farm Bill I'm pushing in the Senate will provide certainty for our producers, at the same time it saves tens of billions of dollars for taxpayers and strengthens the farm safety net. We need to get it enacted as soon as possible."

In the new Congress, Sen. Franken has cosponsored legislation similar to the five-year measure that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2012. Last year, House leaders blocked passage of a five-year bill, forcing the enactment of the temporary extension set to expire in September. Sen. Franken said he is hopeful that House leaders will be more open to the legislation this year. -, 2/7/13

I sure hope Franken is right.  Republicans from the mid west and farm states would be wise to pass a five year farm bill or else they could pay at the polls in 2014.  The delay with the farm bill became a big campaign issue for Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana and Jon Tester in Montana.  If the House doesn't get it's act together, the delay with farm bill will certainly be a big winning issue for Democrats like Franken in 2014.  Franken's fight to look out for farmers and ranchers is just another reason on a long list of reasons why he needs to stay in the Senate.  Lets give Al the resources he needs for 2014:

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 09:06 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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