FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REFORMS AND SOLUTIONS TO HELP FARMERS

May 4, 2016 | HAGEDORN COMMENTARY

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REFORMS AND SOLUTIONS TO HELP FARMERS

By Jim Hagedorn – As farmers wind down planting operations it’s important to acknowledge that southern Minnesota’s farm economy is weakening. Low grain and livestock prices, relatively high input costs, decreasing exports and the lowest median net farm income in 20 years are factors placing increasing pressure on agribusiness and our rural communities.

I grew up on the Hagedorn family farm, located a few miles outside Truman. My father (former Congressman Tom Hagedorn), grandfather and great-grandfather were all southern Minnesota farmers. My farm and small town roots ingrained in me a deep appreciation for agriculture and the correlation between successful family farming and vibrant small businesses, schools and rural communities.

The farmers I meet on the campaign trail fully understand the “ups and downs” of agriculture; but what they don’t understand is why their Congressman, DFL Rep. Tim Walz, keeps working against them by voting to impose excessive regulatory burdens and increasing their production costs.

Mr. Walz’s most glaring anti-agriculture positions include: supporting the EPA and extreme federal regulations, voting for “cap and trade” and supporting global warming schemes to impose a carbon tax, voting for Obamacare, supporting federal and state fuel tax increases and voting for the federal estate “death tax.”

The residents of Minnesota’s First Congressional District deserve better. In fact, you deserve a Congressman fully devoted to defending agriculture and our rural way of life. If elected to Congress, I will fight for the solutions listed below to reform the federal government and reduce costs and burdens on farmers and all southern Minnesotans.

Federal Regulatory Reform: Excessive regulations are hampering farmers, driving up production costs and making U.S. agricultural products less competitive in the world market. I support the REINS Act (H.R. 427), legislation to defeat out-of-control agencies like the EPA by requiring Congress to approve all major regulations. Tim Walz has voted against the REINS Act, repeatedly. I also support appropriations legislation to prohibit the EPA from spending taxpayer dollars to administer devastating rules like “Waters of the United States.”

Replace Obamacare: My opponent’s vote for Obamacare is forcing thousands of farm families and southern Minnesotans to pay health insurance premiums of $10,000 to $25,000 per year with deductibles so high the underlying insurance is all but worthless. I support replacing Obamacare with free-market reforms designed to create nationwide competition, restore the doctor-patient relationship, place downward pressure on the cost of premiums/deductibles, facilitate portable job-to-job benefits, encourage medical care shopping and reward healthy living.

U.S. Energy Independence: The extremist global warming policies of President Obama (supported by Tim Walz) are inflating the price of electricity, fuel and every product and service in our economy. Expensive energy especially hurts highly energy-dependent industries like agriculture. I support U.S. energy independence, achieved through an “all of the above” approach, and construction of the energy infrastructure (pipelines, refineries and distribution points) needed to efficiently utilize our natural resources. Abundant-Reliable-Affordable U.S. energy will decrease farm costs and grow our economy, create high-wage jobs and decrease the cost-of-living for all Americans.

No New Fuel Taxes: The minute gasoline and diesel prices moved lower, my opponent began clamoring for federal and state fuel tax increases (as much as 30 to 40 cents per gallon). Farmers, along with all Americans, deserve long-term relief from the inflated price of fuel during the Obama administration. I oppose new fuel taxes because existing infrastructure budgets are sufficient to meet our transportation needs if the politicians focus primary attention on building and repairing roads and bridges.

Repeal the Estate “Death Tax”:  In this life we all face “death” and “taxes,” but those events should never occur in that order. Far too often, the federal “death tax” forces southern Minnesotans to sell family farms and small businesses to pay the IRS Tax Collector. Forcing generational farm families to sell their land is grossly unfair and disproportionately weakens our rural communities. I strongly support enactment of the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 1105), legislation Mr. Walz voted against in 2015.

The federal reforms and solutions I champion will expand our economy, strengthen our communities and create excellent opportunities for southern Minnesotans. If elected to Congress, I will work relentlessly to defend and sustain agriculture, family farming and our rural way of life.

The author, a resident of Blue Earth, is the Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s First District

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