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Kensington farmer joins Farmers Union trip to Washington, D.C.

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) members, including some from the Douglas County area, joined 200 farmers and ranchers from across the country in Washington, D.C., for National Farmers Union's legislative fly-in September 13-15.

"The importance of having Minnesota Farmers Union members out in Washington, D.C. is immeasurable because it allows them to speak directly to our representatives and senators about proposed legislation and how that legislation would impact them and ways to make positive changes to the bill in order to create better solutions for rural Minnesota, improving the legislation before it becomes law," said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union president.

Members discussed the upcoming farm bill, ending the dairy crisis, the opportunities opening up trade in Cuba would provide to farmers, and the need for the proposed rule changes on the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration, Peterson said.

MFU members also called for:

Including immediate emergency assistance and funding for the Farm Service Agency loans and loan guarantees in the agriculture appropriations bill.

Strengthened safety net programs to help dairy farmers cover the cost of production in bad times,

Implementation of an accurate accounting and reporting system for imported milk proteins and caseins.

Expiration of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

An estate tax rate of 45 percent progressively indexed to higher rates as the value of the estate increases.

Passing a climate energy bill that allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to administer a carbon offset program and not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

MFU members also attended a briefing from the USDA, staff from the White House, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and individuals from the House of Representatives Agriculture Committees.

The MFU members that attended were: Merlyn Hubin of Westbrook; Marvin Jensen of Kensington; Eunice Biel of Harmony; Jeanne Wertish of Renville; Jessica and Mike Ratka of Foley; Alan and Karen Perish of Browerville; Gene Paul, National Farm Organization Policy Analyst from Delavan; Farmers Union Foundation scholarship Ag Policy Education winners, Daniel Hoffman, Agricultural Education Instructor at Riverland Community College from Rochester, and students Nancy and Mark Gerber of Adams; National Youth Advisory Council Member Chandler Winkels of New Richland; and Tom Rothman, Minnesota Farm Network Farm Director.

Minnesota Farmers Union ( is a nonprofit membership-based organization working to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers, as well as rural communities.