Worthington Daily Globe, column by Jim Hagedorn: Reforms and solutions to help First District farmers

BLUE EARTH -- Noting that incumbent Tim Walz has been stripped of the Minnesota Farm Bureau endorsement, I’ve rolled out a series of reforms and legislative policy prescriptions to provide much-needed support to farmers across Minnesota’s First Congressional District.

Tim Walz’s liberal anti-agriculture voting record has finally caught up with him, and the Farm Bureau’s failing to endorse his re-election is proof positive farmers are looking for a new congressman and true change in Washington, D.C. Walz’s record of supporting the EPA and extreme federal regulations; voting for a carbon tax and global warming schemes like “cap and trade”; voting for Obamacare; supporting federal and state fuel tax increases and voting for the federal estate “death tax” are five reasons why the incumbent has lost support of farmers.

At a time when southern Minnesota’s farm economy has weakened with low commodity prices, high production costs, decreasing exports and the lowest median net farm income in 20 years, Walz’s allegiance to Hillary Clinton and the big government anti-farmer factions of the Democratic Party is doubly concerning.

My Prescription for Agriculture Prosperity includes:

Federal Regulatory Reform: I support the REINS Act (H.R. 427) to defeat regulatory overreach and out-of-control agencies such as the EPA by requiring Congress to approve all major federal regulations. Tim Walz voted against the REINS Act, repeatedly. I would also prohibit the EPA from spending taxpayer dollars to administer devastating rules like “Waters of the United States.”

Replace Obamacare: Tim Walz’s vote for Obamacare has forced thousands of farm families to pay exorbitant health insurance premiums of $15,000 to $25,000 per year with deductibles so high the underlying insurance is virtually worthless. Moreover, Blue Cross Blue Shield recently sent health insurance cancellation notices to 104,000 Minnesota families, many of them farmers.

I support replacing Obamacare with free-market reforms designed to create nationwide insurance competition; place downward pressure on the cost of premiums and deductibles; restore the doctor-patient relationship; create pools for people with pre-existing and expensive medical conditions; facilitate portable job-to-job benefits and use Health Savings Accounts to spur medical care shopping and reward healthy living.

U.S. Energy Independence: Noting that 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 and deliver Abundant-Reliable-Affordable U.S. energy.

No New Fuel Taxes: I oppose new fuel taxes because existing infrastructure budgets are sufficient to meet transportation needs if politicians focus primary attention on building and repairing roads and bridges. In contrast, Walz supports Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to increase gas and diesel prices by as much as 30 cents per gallon.

Repeal the Federal Estate “Death Tax”: I support the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 1105), legislation Walz voted against in 2015, to help sustain family-owned farms and businesses. Sadly, the federal death tax forces many families to sell farms and businesses to pay the I.R.S. tax collector.

I will be a superior congressman for Minnesota’s First District because the federal reforms and solutions I champion will expand our rural economy, strengthen our main streets and sustain family farming and our rural way of life.