Klobuchar: Priorities of ag remain crucial to Minnesota and the nation
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., explains her ag priorities.
Every year, Farmfest gives us a great chance to come together and celebrate Minnesota’s farmers and ranchers. Even in the face of persistent challenges — turbulent markets, high shipping costs, and extreme weather events like droughts, floods, wildfires, and disease outbreaks — our farmers have risen to the occasion of feeding the world, fueling our country, and powering our economy.
When I was first elected to the Senate, my No. 1 request was to be on the Agriculture Committee. The reason was simple: I wanted to work on behalf of our rural communities. As we approach the upcoming farm bill, I’m committed to continuing that work. In the 2023 farm bill, we need strong crop insurance, commodity support, and agricultural disaster programs to make sure our farmers have the stability they need amid volatile conditions. I am also focused on reauthorizing my bipartisan legislation that passed as part of the 2018 farm bill that provided funding for a vaccine bank and an animal disease grant program. And after a year marked by droughts and flooding, it’s clear we must also invest in disaster relief for extreme weather. Too many farmers are struggling to plan for the future either because their fields have been too soaked to plant seeds or too dry to bale hay. We must ensure the resilience of those responsible for putting food in all of our pantries.
I am also working to make sure our state continues to lead in producing homegrown, farm-based energy by pushing for major investments in our biofuel infrastructure in the farm bill. Expanding our use of biofuels means less dependence on foreign oil and lower prices at the pump. This is good agricultural policy, good environmental policy, and good economic policy.
With so much uncertainty, farmers need to be able to do their work, protect their farms, and make a living — that’s what I’m focusing on in the 2023 farm bill.
In addition to these farm bill priorities, we know that supporting our farmers also means making sure they have reliable, affordable ways to get their goods to market — so we need an efficient supply chain. Last year, we took a huge step by passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included historic federal funding for bridges, highways and rail as well as ports and waterways. These long term investments will help our farmers get their goods to market. But fixing our supply chain is about more than just physical infrastructure — it’s also about taking on the foreign-owned shipping alliances that have treated our farmers so unfairly.
From 2019 to 2021, farmers saw the average price of shipping containers increase fourfold — and those price hikes were accompanied by astoundingly unreliable service. Meanwhile, the ocean carriers — almost all foreign-owned — reported record profits, bringing in $190 billion in 2021 alone. After hearing from all the farmers and exporters bearing the brunt of this unfair treatment, I knew it was time to address this issue head-on and prevent these carriers from slowing down our supply chain while fleecing our farmers. I teamed up with Sen. John Thune of South Dakota to introduce and pass the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act. Our bill tells the foreign-owned shipping alliances: charge fair rates, stop profiting off our backs and fill your empty crates with American-made products. And I’m proud to say that it was signed into law last month.
Our farmers know that food just doesn’t magically appear on people’s tables — there’s hard work that goes into it. And Congress has a role to play in making sure they have the tools they need to succeed. So it’s crucial for elected officials to put politics aside, listen to farmers, and act in a bipartisan way to make sure their priorities are met. I’m proud to be your partner in Washington, standing up for rural America.
(Klobuchar serves Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.)