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Published May 23, 2008, 12:00 AM

Forum editorial: Coleman’s farm bill work vital

In the debate and fog surrounding approval of the new farm bill, sometimes the details of specific titles got lost. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., can take some credit for his part in securing excellent provisions for Minnesota dairy producers and the region’s vital sugar industry.

Today’s issue: Sugar, dairy titles included in farm bill.

Our position: Coleman was a leader in making improvements in those areas.


In the debate and fog surrounding approval of the new farm bill, sometimes the details of specific titles got lost. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., can take some credit for his part in securing excellent provisions for Minnesota dairy producers and the region’s vital sugar industry.

Noting that the sugar program operates at no cost to the government (you’d never know it by listening to the program’s critics), Coleman worked hard for an extension and improvements.

The sugar loan rate will increase 1.1 cent, the first increase in 15 years. The slight rise reflects rising costs of growing and refining sugar.

Coleman has never given up on his belief that a sugar-to-ethanol program makes economic sense for the industry and for the nation’s alternative fuels program. The farm bill includes his provision, which, once implemented, would take excess U.S. sugar out of trade agreements. It’s a step in the right direction to diversify ethanol feed stocks, which now is mostly corn.

The sugar program is no small matter in the Red River Valley. For example, in Minnesota the industry adds some

$2 billion a year to the economy and generates 4,000 jobs, according to Coleman.

As important as sugar is, the dairy industry in Minnesota is vital. Coleman’s dairy title is an improvement in the safety net for small and medium-sized dairy farms. He worked to extend the Milk Income Loss Program through the life of the new bill. Milk prices will go up when feed prices go up.

The senator will be the first to say he was not alone in working to improve sugar and dairy titles in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, the official name of the farm bill. But his personal focus on those important farm issues (and many others during the course of the debate) was important in getting them into the final legislation.

Minnesota farmers will be more secure because of his work.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board

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