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Klobuchar calls for increasing agricultural exports, cutting red tape

Washington, D.C. - At a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar called for increasing agricultural exports and removing regulatory burdens for U.S. farmers.

Klobuchar questioned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the most effective way to expand exports to foreign markets and highlighted the need to cut red tape for farmers who are facing new regulations. Agriculture is the leading export in Minnesota and accounts for $75 billion in economic activity and supports more than 300,000 jobs every year, Klobuchar said.

"While Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, it is also the land of 80,000 farms," Klobuchar said. "Farmers play a vital role in Minnesota's economy and our nation's economy. Giving farmers access to new markets and cutting red tape will help strengthen our rural communities and fuel economic growth for the entire country."

Klobuchar has been working to open new markets for Minnesota businesses and agriculture producers, and she previously pushed the Administration to help eliminate trade barriers, including poultry to Russia and pork to China. Last year, Klobuchar introduced legislation with Congressman Collin Peterson to lift restrictions on agriculture exports to Cuba, which they said could help grow rural economies in Minnesota and across the nation.

Klobuchar called on Vilsack to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the impact of regulations on farmers, and she discussed with him the role that agriculture producers can play in helping meet the goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that U.S. agriculture exports set an all-time record - exporting $115.8 billion in 2010.

Klobuchar also outlined the legislation she introduced with Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) that would expand the market for homegrown biofuels and provide long-term certainty for innovative producers who continue to develop more efficient homegrown sources of energy, including everything from switch grass to corn husks.

During the hearing, Klobuchar announced her intention to reintroduce her bipartisan Representation for Farmers Act, which she introduced with U.S. Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN). The bill would help ensure that American farmers are represented in the decision-making process when developing environmental policies and regulations that could affect U.S. agriculture. It would give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to appoint up to three members to the EPA's Science Advisory Board.

Klobuchar was recently named a Senate co-chair of the Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus for the 112th Congress. She worked closely with House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson to pass the 2008 Farm Bill.