WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., has announced the members of her newly-formed Ag Working Group who will help make sure Minnesota priorities are included in the upcoming debate over the federal Farm Bill.

“I fought for a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee because agriculture is the foundation of Minnesota’s economy,” Smith said. “As we move into this year’s Farm Bill debate, I plan to push Minnesota priorities after hearing from as many Minnesota experts as possible. My new Ag Working Group will bring together Minnesotans with a deep understanding of farm policy and how it impacts our state’s producers, businesses, and communities. They’ll advise me on things like crop insurance, research, conservation, and energy. And then there are others with backgrounds in rural development, rural health, and nutrition. This is a great group, and I’ll take what I  learn from them, and get to work for Minnesota.”

Sen. Smith will be hosting a kickoff event for her Ag Working Group in the coming weeks, and stakeholders include, but are not limited to, the following Minnesotans from across the state: 

Gary Wertish, Minnesota Farmers Union 

Kevin Paap, Minnesota Farm Bureau

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Keith Olander, Central Lakes College

Shannon Schlecht, Agriculture Utilization Research Institute

Matthew Fitzgerald, Young Farmer Coalition 

Pakou Hang, Hmong American Farmers Association

Ramon Leon, Latino Economic Development Center

Dave Carlson, Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance

Michelle Medina, Minnesota Farmers Union

Cheryal Lee Hills, Region Five Development Commission

Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, Region Nine Development Commission

Dave Hengel, Greater Bemidji

Paul Mackie, National Association for Rural Mental Health, Mankato State University

Mark Jones, Minnesota Rural Health Association

Colleen Moriarty, Hunger Solutions

Rob Zeaske, Second Harvest Heartland

Jeffrey Phillips, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Scott Dane, Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota

Deann Stish, Minnesota Forest Resource Council

Wayne Brandt, Minnesota Forest Industries

Bev Durgan, University of Minnesota Extension Service

LeAnn Buck, Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Ben Winchester, University of Minnesota Extension Service

LeRoy Staples Fairbanks III, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Keith Anderson, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

Fitz Ebinger, Clean Energy Resource Teams

If you would like to contribute to Sen. Smith’s Ag Working Group, please send your input to ag@smith.senate.gov.