Minnesota family farmers meet with Peterson and others

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota family farmers traveled to the nation’s capital today to meet with government officials and lawmakers about the 2008 farm bill and President Obama’s newly released budget outline.

A handful of farmers from Minnesota’s Land Stewardship Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable agriculture and represents the state’s small and moderate-sized farmers, were expected to meet with administration officials, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, today and Tuesday. They were joined by farmers from Iowa and Missouri.

The main goal of the “fly-in” was to focus on pieces of the 2008 farm bill that have yet to be implemented, said Adam Warthesen, program organizer for the Land Stewardship Project.

 At the same time, the farmers wanted to let their lawmakers know that they thought the president’s budget was “a step in the right direction.”

“We think it is refreshing to have a president that cuts where there is wasteful spending,” said Warthesen.

Obama’s budget, unveiled Thursday, seeks to reduce federal payments to large farms and cut federal support for crop insurance.

While the details of the outline are sketchy, the Land Stewardship Project has tentatively backed the proposed plan.

Obama’s move, however, has not gone uncontested. Agriculture groups and some lawmakers, including Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, have generally decried the outline, saying that the farm bill should not be reopened before it has been fully implemented.

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