Letter: Persistent tilling gets results for Rep. Collin Peterson
Recently Congress passed and President Obama signed a farm bill which establishes policy for the next five years. This bill was remarkable in many ways, especially that it took about three years of negotiations to get final agreement.
During this time our current Seventh District representative Collin Peterson worked with people on both sides of the aisle, first as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and then after the Republicans took control of the House, as the ranking Democrat. Losing the chairmanship seems not to have daunted Peterson one bit as he has considerable influence either way – influence he has added to year over year since 1990.
What is remarkable about the new policy is that while cuts were made in the food stamp program for the poor, a substantial allotment was retained, crop insurance replaced direct payments, and even more remarkably, some real advances were made in policies that promote sustainable farming. Things like money to help growers make the transition from industrial farming to less carbon-intensive farming and tying conservation benefits to crop insurance subsidies. The only disappointment is that there's no limit on how big a subsidy you can get and millionaire farmers will continue to do very well indeed.
Representative Peterson has expressed disappointment with some aspects of the bill but we all know that without compromise legislation just doesn't get passed. What amazes me is that I haven't seen a single letter in area newspapers praising Peterson's accomplishments. I believe that our duty as citizens doesn't stop at the voting booth. We still have to let our elected officials know what we want them to do and to praise them when they do it. So, Collin, please accept congratulations and thanks from those of us who appreciate what you do and how hard it is to do it well.