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Published May 18, 2012, 11:04 AM

Collin Peterson wants farm bill input

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Congress may be reaching the final stage of work on the 2012 farm bill, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wants input from his constituents.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Congress may be reaching the final stage of work on the 2012 farm bill, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wants input from his constituents.

He’ll be hosting a series of farm meetings this week in western Minnesota.

Peterson, who spoke with the news media in a May 18 conference call, said he’s optimistic that the new farm bill — the federal government’s main food and agricultural policy tool — will be finalized by Aug. 5. If work isn’t completed by then, the chances of approving a new farm bill this year fall sharply, he said.

The U.S. House and Senate agree on some aspects of the next farm bill. The areas of agreement include conservation and rural development, he says.

But the two bodies disagree on a number of things, most notably the commodity title and counter-cyclical payments. The disagreements are based on geographical and philosophical, not partisan, differences, he says.

This summer, the House and Senate will work to reconcile their differences. Peterson says the meetings in Minnesota will give him a stronger sense of exactly what his constituents want.

At the meetings, “I’ll lay out what the options are,” he says. “What you have to say can make a difference.”

Here’s the schedule for the farm meetings: 10 a.m. on May 21 at Youngquist Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus in Crookston; 2 p.m. on May 21 at the Younggren Farms Shop near Hallock, Minn.; 10 a.m. on May 24 at the Otter Tail Power Community Rooms in Fergus Falls; 2 p.m. on May 24 at Melrose City Center in Melrose; 11 a.m. on May 25 at the Pipestone County Courthouse in Pipestone (hosted by Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.); and 3 p.m. on May 25 at Max’s Grill in Olivia, Minn.

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