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Local cattlemen host senator


Fri, Apr 30th, 2010
Posted in Agriculture

Jeff Eickhoff of the Fillmore County Farm Bureau recently organized a beef tour for Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona. Local cattlemen are interested in keeping their industry priorities before legislators, so area tours provide a firsthand opportunity for education. Eickhoff reported that the beef tour sprawled across the entire landscape of Fillmore County, from Spring Valley to Rushford to Mabel to Preston.

"Beef and pork producers had a chance to talk directly with our senator about our ideas, current market trends, livestock production, water quality, and food-safety best practices," said Eickhoff. They studied the new gutter system, berms, and ponds installed to capture and filter run-off.

Ropes is the vice chair of the Minnesota Senate Agriculture Committee and is very interested in getting out onto farms whenever she can.

"Whenever my wheels hit a lane road, it's a good day," said Ropes. "I appreciate talking one-on-one with farmers. Ranch profitability, ag value-added opportunities, and rural economic development are key to getting Minnesota families through these tough times."

The tour began at Eickhoff's rural Spring Valley farm where his family raises Black Angus and finishes pork. Steve Highum is a beef producer outside of Rushford and talked with the senator about regulations and narrow economic margins. Larry and Chris Miller of Miller's Lawnview Angus hosted the last stop. Miller explained that his family had a century-old ranch straddling the Iowa-Minnesota border and specializing in bull production.

Ropes informed the group that one of her priorities for beef producers had been to successfully advocate for split-state status related to bovine tuberculosis. Minnesota beef producers have been unable to move their product across state lines due to an outbreak of bovine TB in cattle and deer herds in northern counties. Via Ropes' Ag Committee, legislators passed bills that will help farmers with bank-lender mediation, credit for feed purchases, livestock investment grants, and investment in renewable fuels.

Sen. Ropes pledged to continue going to bat for farmers and rural landowners to fix property tax jumps, to upgrade rural roads and bridges, oppose the Southern Rail Corridor, and strengthen their property rights against eminent domain for power line projects.

For more information, contact Sen. Ropes' State Capitol office at sen.sharon.erickson.ropes@senate.mn or 651-296-5649.

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