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Published January 31, 2010, 12:00 AM

IN THE MAIL: Peterson focuses too much on farmers

As average citizens of the 7th Congressional District struggle with today’s financial mess (including home foreclosures, health care costs and job loss), Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., focuses his attention on continued government support for the district’s financial elite: its farmers.

By: Alan Roebke, Alexandria, Minn.

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — As average citizens of the 7th Congressional District struggle with today’s financial mess (including home foreclosures, health care costs and job loss), Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., focuses his attention on continued government support for the district’s financial elite: its farmers.

Even with record income over the past four years, these farmers still get annual government subsidy checks plus an even a bigger perk: subsidized crop insurance.

As House Agriculture Committee chairman Peterson told wheat farmers the other day, hearings will start this spring for a 2012 farm bill. When asked about direct payments, which amount to about $5 billion a year (crop insurance premium subsidies are another $5 billion), Peterson said that while he’s not fond of direct payments and finds them hard to justify, he’d fight for them if farm groups make the case they are the best method of farm program support.

“We need something that can get you (farmers) back your cost of production, so you can farm next year,” he is quoted as saying. “We’re not doing that now.”

But it’s hard to fashion such a system, he said.

In other words, after 20 years in Congress, Peterson doesn’t know how to address the farmers’ No. 1 issue, cost of production, other than with continued taxpayer cash.

What about the concerns of the remaining 90 percent of the district’s citizens? Who will make a case for the best method to address their problems?

Or is it simply time for a new congressman, one who can represent all the citizens of the 7th Congressional District of Minnesota, not just its wealthy farmers?

Roebke ran as a Republican candidate for the 7th Congressional District seat in 2008. He lost to another GOP candidate in the primary election.

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