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Minnesota lawmakers lobby on ag issues

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue arrives for a meeting with then-president-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, Nov. 30, 2016. Mike Segar / Reuters

ST. PAUL—Midwestern members of Congress worry about what the Trump administration may do about agriculture-related issues, especially a law requiring use of crop-based fuel.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she drove home that point during a recent meeting with agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue. Also, a bipartisan group of representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump saying the Renewable Fuel Standard law is critical.

"As a co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, it is important to remind the new administration of its commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard and how it creates jobs and strengthens rural economies," Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said. "I am pleased with the bipartisan support for this letter and will continue to fight for a robust Renewable Fuel Standard in the years to come."

Representatives told the administration that in 2015 alone that the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a certain amount of crop-based fuel in gasoline and diesel, created nearly 86,000 jobs "ranging from farms to equipment manufacturers to ethanol production facilities."

Work is beginning on a new farm legislation, and Midwesterners are taking the initiative to make sure they are heard. As a Georgian, Perdue knows less about Midwestern agriculture than many of his predecessors.

"It was important for me to sit down with ... Perdue and discuss the issues that are important to farmers in Minnesota and across the Midwest," Klobuchar said. "In addition to an on-time farm bill reauthorization and a strong RFS, I urged him to support our bipartisan efforts to open up new markets in countries like Cuba for our farmers' goods and products, and to expand broadband access in rural America."

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.