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Minnesota senators trying to help hog and dairy farmers

Both of Minnesota’s U.S. senators took actions this week to help struggling state farmers.

Sen. Al Franken joined 23 other senators in asking the U.S. Ag Department to buy $100 million in pork, said the Bemidji Pioneer

(In his new, non-joking persona, you can be sure Franken said nothing about how this might be the ultimate in pork barrel politics.)

According to the paper:

“Right now pig farmers across Minnesota are facing a crisis,” Franken said in a statement about his measure. “This isn’t the result of bad financial planning, just bad luck and a worse economy. Farmers are the backbone of our state, and I’m going to do what I can to help them.”

Since September 2007, the U.S. pork industry lost $4.6 billion, with farmers losing an average of more than $21 on every hog sent to market, Franken said.

A number of factors contributed to the severe losses, including rising farming input costs and a worldwide recession. The losses were only exacerbated with the outbreak of the H1N1 virus misnamed swine flu, and that misinformation that caused unwarranted export bans, he said.

And Sen. Amy Klobuchar was active on the dairy farm front, co-sponsoring an amendment to provide additional relief to dairy farmers struggling with plummeting dairy prices by providing the U.S. Department of Agriculture with $350 million to buy milk and other dairy products.

It’s part of the 2010 agriculture appropriations bill and would provide USDA with $60 million in additional funds to buy more surplus dairy products for food banks and other programs, along with $290 million in aid to dairy farmers.

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