I grew up in rural America for much of my childhood. My grandfather farmed beans and rice and worked as a farm foreman until the farm crisis in the 1980s forced the farmer who employed him — and many others — out of business. He spent the next few years repairing John Deere tractors for those who made it through the tough times.
I know how important farming is to Minnesota’s economy — it’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. Several years of low commodities pricing, high health care costs and a lack of access to capital are just a few of the issues our farmers face. And now add uncertainty around trade and tariffs to that list, as well.
Unfortunately, politicians in Washington — including U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis — are only making things harder for Minnesota’s farmers with a political culture focused on party wins and losses instead of whether Minnesota families win or lose.
Our nation’s trade war with China is having a real and very negative impact on farmers. Recently, China placed a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans, effectively closing their market and causing soybean prices to drop to 10-year lows. Corn, dairy and pork producers are threatened, too.
As your representative, I will fight back against policies that harm our nation’s farmers — whether they come from Democrats or Republicans. Lewis is silent on this administration’s trade policies. That says a lot.
We must work toward fairer trade deals that put good 21st Century American manufacturing jobs in a better position to compete globally. But trade is complex. I spent over 20 years working in a global business with exports around the world. You can’t negotiate trade on Twitter.
Minnesota is the fifth largest agricultural state in America. Our 75,000 farms contribute $19 billion to our nation’s economy each year. To put this massive economic investment at risk is irresponsible. We should be looking to open more markets, not close them off.
I recently held a roundtable on a beautiful farm in Zumbro Falls. I heard from families who told me about desperately needing access to high-speed Internet and infrastructure investments to help get their products to market and health care to them.
I also heard plenty about the cost of health care. I spent portions of my childhood without access to health insurance and I spent two decades working in health care. I know firsthand if you can’t afford health care, it isn’t available to you. Americans are paying too much. And I’ll fight like hell to lower those costs.
Farmers need a bipartisan farm bill that maintains food security programs and includes a strong energy title, so our farmers can continue to contribute to an energy-independent future. Unfortunately, Lewis voted for a farm bill that does the opposite.
America’s farmers — like my grandfather — have done so much for our state and our country. Now it’s time to do all we can for them, no matter the politics.