The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 26, 2006

Ag secretary says farmers need Gutknecht

MANKATO — Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns made a campaign stop in Mankato on behalf of Congressman Gil Gutknecht Tuesday, asking farm country voters to remember on Nov. 7 that times are good for farmers.

Pointing to high commodity prices, a growing renewable energy industry and expanded foreign trade opportunities, Johanns said the Republican-controlled federal government deserves some credit from farm-state voters.

“That doesn’t happen accidentally,” the former Nebraska governor said. “It doesn’t happen because someone wishes it would happen. ... We’re starting to see the benefits of that very, very good farm policy.”

Gutknecht, a Rochester Republican seeking his seventh term in Congress, noted that he has rising seniority on the House Agriculture Committee and is chairman of a subcommittee that has influence on renewable energy and other rural issues. That’s important in south-central Minnesota.

“If you draw a 200-mile radius around Mankato, Minnesota, it really is the center of what is happening with renewable energy in the whole United States,” Gutknecht said.

With Congress set to begin writing a new multi-year farm bill next year, Johanns suggested farmers should vote pragmatically in two weeks and elect a tenured congressman such as Gutknecht.

“You desperately need somebody who can make the case in the committee (for southern Minnesota’s interests),” Johanns said. “You also need the person who can make the case on the House floor.”

Democratic challenger Tim Walz, whose aggressive campaign has made the 1st District race close enough to attract national Republican campaigners such as Johanns, agrees that the current farm policy is basically a good one. Walz, a Mankato school teacher, also agrees that farmers should vote strategically on Nov. 7.

Electing the 15 additional Democrats needed to make the Democrats the majority party in the House will put Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson in the chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee, Walz said. He would replace Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte as chairman.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News