A Minnesota Citizens Forum on the future of rural Minnesota, held at the Minnesota State Fair. Panelists Paul Wellstone, Minnesota U.S. senator (D); Bob Ness, Minnesota state representative and chair of the Agriculture and Rural Development Finance committee; and Colleen Landkamer, Blue Earth County Commissioner, discuss issues and solutions of the rural farm community. Panel answers questions from the audience and listeners. Program begins with news from MPR’s Greta Cunningham.
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What's news from Minnesota Public Radio on Greta Cunningham? A federal court has upheld to pick any ordinance in Fargo the case originated from the 1991 picketing by anti-abortion demonstrators in front of the home of an abortion clinic administrator, Minnesota public radio's Patty marsicano has more Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court and held as constitutional Fargo's ordinance Banning picketing in front of people's homes in October of 1991. Some anti-abortion activist were arrested while picketing in front of the home of Jane Boulevard the administrator of a clinic that provides abortion the activist argue the picketing ordinance violated their free speech they won their case and lower court and were awarded attorneys fees and costs. But the federal appeals court says the ordinance does not violate free speech that the ordinance does not regulate the content of speech would rather protect people's privacy in their own homes Fargo and act of the ordinance in 1985 and today's Court ruling allows it to stay on the books. I'm Patty. Marsicano, Minnesota public.Police are still looking for a suspect in the shooting on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis yesterday police say one person was wounded after someone in a green Mitsubishi Eclipse with Utah license plates fired and an Acura Integra traveling East on 94 near the Lowry Avenue exit. No arrests have been made a Watertown business executive Mark Kennedy has declared himself a candidate for congress in the 2nd District. Kennedy is running as a Republican and says one of his top issues is helping Farmers current 2nd District Congressman. David Mindy is contemplating not running for re-election. So he can run for the Senate the forecast for Minnesota calls for showers likely Statewide with a chance of a few thunderstorms high temperatures today near 6200 North 275 in the South right now in Duluth. It's cloudy and 59 in the Twin Cities Cloudy Skies a temperature of 63. That's a news update on Greta Cunningham.Good afternoon, 6 minutes past twelve and welcome back to mid-day. I'm Gary I can and if they were broadcasting live from the Minnesota Public Radio booth at the Minnesota State Fair now if you're out here visiting the fair, we certainly do invite you to stop by. We're near the corner of Judson and Nelson about midway between the dairy building and the animal barns State Fair began, of course as an agricultural Exposition a chance for Farm families around the state to show their Wares and share their stories and given that history what better place to discuss the current problems facing girl Minnesota for the past several months. There's been lots of talk about all those problems. Let's talk about possible solutions. So today, we're going to try to focus on some possible solutions new policies new directions.This summer over a thousand people have been gathering together to discuss the issues facing Grove Minnesota. They've been participating in Minnesota citizens Forum sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune newspaper University of Minnesota extension service and Katie CA public television, they come up with some ideas and how to address the major problems facing Grow Minnesota today several of those folks have joined us here at the fair to share what they come up with her on the stage at the fair are three key government officials who are going to be responding and reacting to those eyes those ideas rather Minnesota Democratic. Senator. Paul wellstone Center wellstone has been holding a series of meetings around the state on the roll prices Republican state Representative Bob messes with us and rural development finance committee. So we have the federal and state levels of government representative. We also have local levels of government are represented a Blue Earth County Commissioner Killeen Land Camera is here. She's chair of the nationalAssociation of counties rural caucus so folks. Thanks for joining us today up here on the stage preciate it now we're going to begin our discussion with a focus on the immediate crisis facing rural Minnesota namely the problems facing Minnesota Farmers, but a rural Minnesota out State Minnesota is more than just Farmland in agriculture and later this hour, we're going to be broadening our focus and discuss what are citizen panelists have come up with in terms of rural development and diversification their Vision. If you would for a rural Minnesota, let's get started though with the problems facing farmers in Minnesota and eat around the nation. Are there any short-term changes that would help farmers weather the current prices of low prices and surplus Commodities what long-term changes would help avert future crises, Lori Sturdevant of the Star Tribune has been involved in all of our citizens for him to the summer and she is today. She's here today armed with one of our wireless microphones.a dozen or more citizen foreign participants Lori questions for our government representative. Is Nancy spanis Nancy's been with us from Minneapolis. She said School administrator in St. Louis Park. Senator wellstone since I'm an urban dweller. I'd like to frame this in terms of the urban example. Do you see any insights that we've gained or lessons that we've learned from welfare-to-work that we might translate into help for the family farmer. That is any government or quasi government structures or systems that we might put in place to help them get to a place where they can earn a good living for their family. Well, well, I mean the the original answer Nancy is that is in a way. No because I hadn't thought about this comparison. I guess there are two things that come to mind that that may or may not connect with the premise of your question. One is I think the key to from welfare-to-work is economic independence. In other words, you want a mother and her children. That's what we're really talking about to be able to find employment. It's a living wage where she can support her children live with dignity in that sense. I would argue that what family farmers are now saying in the heartland of America with Minnesota being part of the heartland of America is we it's not too much to ask to be able to get a decent price so we can earn a decent standard of living so that we can give our families the care they need and deserve that's what I would do is being frankly the the similarity. I'm not sure the welfare quote Reform Bill is work. So well, that's a whole other topic for discussion. Let me follow up if I can on that. How can we? urban area right now is a form of welfare. Well a couple of different things. First of all when Gary said at the beginning and I appreciated the today the focus will be on Solutions as opposed to identifying the problem. I appreciate that. Although I will tell you I do not believe that America and Metropolitan America including Metropolitan, Minnesota is yet that aware of the seriousness of the problem. And as far as what we're talking about the kind of proposals that makes sense all have to do without getting technical Lori with Farmers being able to have some bargaining power in the marketplace so they can get a decent price in the market place. We actually aren't talking about direct welfare payments. So I would say that's the way you do it now and I think Bob would agree people need to understand what this debate is about the loan right people need to understand all the language of Target prices and deficiency payments and set aside. But really what we're saying is just as we all want to have a living wage for ourselves and our families shouldn't the producers who produced the food and fiber for those of us who want to have a living wage also have a decent price or living wage. That's what we're talking about. Representative Mass. I would just like to take a little different spin on that the connection. I don't want to make any disparaging remarks about those were trying to help get off welfare and be self-sustaining and and does have a brighter future but to make the connection that farmers are welfare. I I really find that a disconnect because for my observation are farmers or working very hard they are willing to do whatever they need to do their labors or their capital investment their wrists taking all those kinds of things are part of production Agriculture and you know, it's hard for me to make that connection to the welfare reform piece for the welfare-to-work piece. The other part I want to make with comments to Senator wellstone is that when we talked about price at we're also given by global Trends in the world marketplace and somehow or other we got to change. Our trading policies are tariffs on what we ship the loop Reno up to about 50% The other countries on products that we ship overseas and when they come back to us, so we're about a 5% tariff somehow we have to balance it out somehow we have to also develop and expand markets and not lose our market share enough and I are of just glut in Minnesota. We have to export virtually about 90% of everything we produce and we're depending on the federal government and they are not in our marketing strategies that we can tailor State policy the match federal policy to make that work in the big picture. You can't citizens that we recruited to the Minnesota poll, but also people who are from activists and our next speaker is from that category. Bob arndt is the president of the national Farmers organization here in Minnesota. We in the National Farmers organization understand that farmers have a tremendous responsibility to solve their own problems in the marketplace. But at the same time we need a Level Playing Field and we've been given the freedom of the the freedom to farm agricultural bill and the freedom to find every culture has no mechanism to adjust we expect at the Ford markets will buy everything we produce and yet when the horn Marcus can't for some reason because we may produce too much with this fence roll the fence row planting. We have no mechanism to adjust know. I suggest this that if Congress this. Market lost payments to Farmers, That they give farmer some responsibility that if they accept these payments to agree to cut back 20% of next year's productive productive land production for 1 year and bring that Supply back into balance and caused the market to respond. And if the markets respond, that's where we get our profits from work babe take the responsibility off the taxpayer and put it into the marketplace where it belongs to any of payments that may come out this fall. Let's cut back an hour. Production next year I'll buy as much as 20% Well, I want to respond to that too. Because I think you make a very good point about all that but overproduction and we not only are over producing because of all the technology and all the farming methods and things we know that our production is almost double what it was 20 years ago on the same plot of ground. I have an idea to move us in a more permanent way and I'd like to suggest sister Center to wellstone is that if we could I move into say hybrid popular or some other products that we would take egg production of Commodities out of the land and give us 10 years for that to matter and then feed another Enterprise in sort of move the agriculture initiative into a more diverse kind of taking land out of production, but my question responding to you is those Farmers that are Kaplan Best it and they have huge Investments of equipment and and various other farming technology Etc. I don't know if they can cash flow and and not that be at risk from their capital investment that they take 20% of their income away and then still try to make that work out on the unit cost basis. I mean, it's it's there's a there's a downside to that unless we can guarantee them some income on those set aside or Hollister going to do that. Well, first of all, I want to go back to Nancy real quick because I thought of another connection to which is I think the whole focus is on people being able to live with dignity and being economically self-sufficient. And I think that's also what this farm crisis is about what I'd say to I was smiling while you were while you were laying this out because I think of two things first of all, actually I think ultimately when Bob next to talk about trade agreements, I think ultimately the exporting nations are going to have to figure out a way of basically moving in the direction that you're talkin about so that we don't have producers pitted against producers and so that in other countries as well, they're not faced with the same problem that we had in many ways. I think it's not just going to have to be done at an international context but an international context especially taking fragile Acres out of production, especially with an emphasis on conservation. The second point I would make is which is why I was smiling. I think that the grain companies I'll be much more likely to embrace a marketing loan which is sort of a safety net which sort of gets in come up as opposed to a set aside their going to go ballistic as exporter cuz they really are focused on sheep brain policy. Frankly The Producers don't have much control. I want to see produces get more control. I think there's way too much Monopoly power, but I think the direction you're going in makes a great deal of sense politically. We're going to be bumped up against as you well know, especially the grain companies some of the big exporters, but I think you're right because it gives producers more control over their own destiny, which is what NFL was always been about in my next wife. I'm going to be in organizer for the NFL because in theory your strategy fix, may I ask a city boy question here before we get too much further into Farm policy. The other day of the bean Growers said the government should just buy up the Surplus or at least Surplus. It's soy beans and send it before. Bootcamp eat and have nots don't have enough to eat elsewhere around the world rather than sending checks to Farmers emergency bills to the bail out to people and help that why not just buy up the Surplus and send it to starving people around the world. Well, I actually as I've said to the soybean Growers, I think it's a excellent idea. I think it's make sense. The answer is good. But the way you say it I don't I just have to with a sort of bit of skepticism about let's just do that. Not the rest your that's one piece. That's one small piece. If you talk to Farmers and you talk to people that live in Greater Minnesota, and and I hope people in Minnesota understand we're not going to have the same Minnesota. It's going to be a very different state on present course, they're going to tell you above and beyond buying up the Surplus in terms of soybeans or or for that matter an emergency assistance is Your Weatherby amp two payments, which I don't particularly like or ldp's or anything else. Most people say to you but Paul or Gary or calling or Bob. What about 2 or 3 years from now? Is there any future for us or our children? How we going to do with the price prices how we going to deal with the Monopoly and a few firms dominate in so much of the food industry how we going to have a better trade policy how we going to have a future that's no substitute for talking about what we need to do for a future. So what we really need in Rural America is a real policy. We've had had egg policy for most of the time and it has not worked. We've never had a national rule policy a policy that the talks about all the issues that there are in rural Minnesota egg is not the only issue in Minnesota. It's an important part but it's not the only issue at the workforce investment investment stuff. It's really important. We have to help people who can't survive on the farm and he Find different ways to live in rural areas and keep those rural areas viable and sustainable. We want to revitalize those because there isn't room in the city for all the real people to come and the city people don't want all the real people in the cities and we want to make sure that there is viable and sustainable places to live around the country Technologies going to play a huge piece. It is it's like when the railroad went through if it didn't go through your town yet died. I just flew away you died and you blew away and if we don't have technology in rural areas the same things going to happen you can't live and you can't have a family and feed them and 160 Acre Farm anymore. It's not going to happen. So we have to look at new ways that we can. Help Agriculture and health are rural communities be sustainable. And so that's going to be the challenge for all of us and I think we can do it with legislation. But I think most of its going to be play Space. What does your community need what Rock County needs is probably different than what Beltrami County needs and so we're going to have to figure it out for ourselves to a certain extent in rural community. But we're also going to need the assistance of the federal government the state government and we're going to need leadership to help us move forward good place to a ship broaden our Focus then to the to the larger issue of rural development. If you're just joining us, this is a Minnesota citizens Forum discussion about a thousand people have been meeting all summer long talking about some of the issues facing role Minnesota and many of them 13. I believe have gathered here at the state fair at our booth with some specific. Suggestions comments in the rest here at our booth on our stage 3 folks representing different levels of government of joined us to respond State Representative. Bob Ness u.s. Senator Paul wellstone and county commissioner Halloween Land Camera. And so let's broaden things on little bit broader. Look at those are some of the issues facing role Minnesota. What's your vision has gotten real Minnesotan which would include Joe involved in this issue Jose an engineer at the Toro company in research and development Joe. Please show your comment. I'd like to follow up on the previous song question. I was respected Europe. I believe it to be probably impractical to believe that we will see Europe or Japan changed their import tariffs dramatically Europe is known hunger. And therefore they are going to protect their Farm economy on the farm base at all cost and therefore to just think that this is going to happen because we want to or that we think we can at the United States for some may not be so therefore, how would we View? Are farmers differently if we've used them as a strategic strength, if we we have never known for a large part of hunger in the United States? If we ever did we would find that it would be impossible to create this industry that we have today overnight. Therefore shouldn't Farmers be view as much as a strategic strength of the United States and therefore protected as we would other strategic strength 21. I'd like to jump on that the European Union has put together a program to keep their rural areas resilient so that they can respond react and prosper. They think it's well worth making sure that there are policies in place to make sure that the price is up and that there are National policies out of the whole European Union that make a rural areas to stay in a bowl. I think one of the things we I think we can learn a lot from that and I think we should look at what they're doing and see what we can take from that and bring home and and use in the United States. I think one of the things we all have to think about is do we want agriculture to be a service industry or do we want it to be made up of small business people? I think if you look at the service industry make McDonald's might be a good example McDonald's is a great Corporation. But the people who work, you know, Candy. Hamburgers at the front counter. What's their vision for McDonald's or are they just waiting for the next job to come along? Whereas if you're a small-business person. Do you have a vision for the future and where you want to see your company go? And so I think that's something we all have to really think about is do we want activist service industry or do you want to be a small business I do a day because there a lot of people with questions a of all the questions asked in my opinion in many ways this question. You just asked goes to the core of the whole debate and you're right Europeans. We should stop trying to have a trade policy that calls upon the Europeans to do what they're not going to do. Because they've decided family farm structure agriculture is a national security issue. I think they're right second of all if it's straight economics then maybe some people want to argue. There's no place for a family fun. I'm not sure I even agree with that. I think it's the inevitability of a stacked deck. But in any case I would argue that if we don't change the course of policy, we're going to go through a transition in a very short. Of time that we're going to deeply regret is a nation. You're going to have a few people own in the land. It's a few it's a food security issue. Are you going to have too much consolidation of power? The question is then what happens to price of food? What about the quality of food? What about the environment? What about Rural America? I think there are all sorts of good national security reasons why we should make a commitment to win this fight the family Farmers. I absolutely agree with the premise of your question. I think you're on the right Vision, but Going to look at policy that affects real Minnesota are all over the role areas that we've got to take a look at the mega trends that are going on in the transitional Trends and I believe that that we're in the state of transformation if not transition and it's continuing the man was here with a Toro jacket on I have to be down to Wyndham here a couple of weeks ago and you know, I noticed that they had a client there with 500 jobs at Oral. That's the diversification of that real economy and that'll give them a base to make the future. Now that's a transition that there's not a lot to do with agriculture. But it it Blends and it takes advantage of the quality the farm labor if the if you look at the big picture and end the whole Global issue a we still have to figure out a better way of marketing our products in Minnesota. They said early with it with the export about 90% of what we produce if we're going to bring that back into the into the economy in Minnesota about one-third of our economy is generated by agriculture. You know from the producer to the processor to the consumer and one out of four jobs just tied to that. I mean it we have a vested stake in the future, but we're going to have to diversify I grew up in the Family Farm And I maintain right now that the people are firemen can do more in 4 hours and I could do in 4 weeks in with the equipment they have so it's it's changed in and we look at all the mergers that are going on and all the consolidations going on. That's part of the mega Transit. We have to look at if we're going to enact policy that's going to make a long-term difference destroy being questioned. You know, that's one phase of the agriculture industry. Yes, it would help but that's that's an immediate kind of a solution. It's not going to help us the second and the third year in the fourth year when we're dealing with the world left of Commodities follow up on it on this a real development. You were just raising. Hi. I just want to make a comment on the travel and tourism Industries in Minnesota and I'll state of Minnesota has its own. Tourism industry how can that perhaps help rule, Minnesota and developing and marketing their strengths. I I think that's a great great question Mary and it is part of the diversification that Bob's talking about you look down at the cannon River Trail the Red River river valley. There are wonderful tours and things going on there that should have never happened before because of the beauty of the area and you've got people biking down there. You got people staying overnight. You've got people spending money and it's it's changed the the culture down in that area and it's at so I think there's a multitude of things that that we can look at. We just have to get stuff to do Life as we know it is no longer and I think that's a challenge for all of us, you know, and we can't afford the depopulation of rural Minnesota. We put too much money into infrastructure with schools with the whole thing. We've got to figure out ways to to make it sustainable and resilient and I think two reasons one of the one of one of the many ways that Can do that you see the current population in rural Minnesota under the best case scenario essentially stabilizing or a mass influx of people from the cities what that mean in terms of your vision out there. What what do you see in one world Community? They're all different. There are some places especially by the lakes in Minnesota that populations growing up and going up in rural communities. There are some places on the western side of the state where I mean, the population is just going further and further down. And so I think you really have to look at the community because I really do believe we're not the same the cookie cutter approach does not work. We have to look at play Space Solutions in the only way we can do that is if we look at each individual community. I just like the ad that we're seeing if we go in and look at the mega Trends are the trends are going on out there the the speed of change of transition Andrew Minnesota is accelerating everyday faster than people realize I mean, it's just happening. The regional centers are evolving. If you want to look back. Maybe 20 years ago, looking North Dakota or South Dakota and and you can see what's left with just a vacation the Saint Cloud to Mankato the Bemidji to Brainerd maybe the more heads the hutchinsons or wherever the Rochesters the wynona's the marshals. Maybe that's about it. But we're seeing a the Kmarts the Walmart. So the Fleet Farm's the all the kinds of Professional Services and then the consolidation of the health Delivery Systems that really impact where people are going to gather and that leaves a vacuum wherever that happens in a small town School enrollments her down all the kinds of things to support that infrastructure that cleans talking about is impacted and we just can't ignore that we How to figure out how we can direct and manage policy change and and still preserve the quality of life. And if Paul says the the Dignity of a good living that in a livable wage, what did you all day to save essentially all existing small towns or let some of them go or what the what would be the ultimate goal? Why would a goal be to let him go? I don't understand the question. On the other hand opala. Well, I would think that to to preserve some small communities would take an awful lot of money and that might better be spent somewhere else, but see it to me. I'll do it quickly again, cuz there's so many I would say there's here's a distinction. I would like to make I think we probably agree on this all of the focus on economic development and whether or not there's an economic future for Greater. Minnesota should be in addition to a family farm structure but not as a replacement for in other words. I have to be I met with 35 bankers and they every one of them said that right now on Preston course, it's not just the farmers. It's the implement dealers. It's the education. It's the hospitals. It's it's the small businesses. I mean this is critically important to understand how important this part of the economy is after having said that and it's not inevitable that we lose it. That's what makes me so angry just doesn't need to be happening. It's not Adam Smith's invisible hand II. Part is even in the smallest towns Even in our most rural of rural communities. I would argue that the keys to success to be would be free. He's education empowerment and Entrepreneurship. And that means that when young people graduate from high school Killeen, they don't get the message to get ahead get an education so you can get out of here cuz there's nothing in this community people can think of themselves as being able to come back in the community and create things. We should talk about technology. We should talk about possibilities of other jobs, but Gary none of this is inevitable. I don't think go ahead Lori. Okay. Well, we have your Julie Swenson who who I think it's typical of a lot of real Minnesotan of these days and that she is engaged in farming. She's a beekeeper. She's also working at Target to see what you're coming today question is I live and really sore and address to the store and I drive to Mankato everyday or the days that I work and I am seeing more and more housing going up out in every little nook and cranny that has a beautiful view or a nice Ravine area are closed at the house. And I know and please and Nicollet County. I don't remember it's 5 or 10 acres. They have to have to put up a home what's going to happen to all this nice virgin type plan. And then also why the Farmland is being taken up this way. I think they set up to discourage the housings. I taken is this how many acres and I think it's backfiring because they are they Need that much land. I don't think to have a home on Julie you're talking about my community as you well know and we have I think a lot of the issues there are the Planning and Zoning issues that local governments determine. We have put a two-mile Zone around Mankato to plan for grow and worked with the city and the Township in order to to do orderly grow orderly development so that you know, you don't have a house here. You don't have a house key. 10 miles away and populating the countryside not now you need a court order in order to put at the house, but we're trying to do orderly growth so that the city's continue to be cities and you have the infrastructure in place to support those cities and you can have cluster housing and that we can keep our Farmland as far inland as long as we can but it all goes back to your local government. And their determination as to how that Planning and Zoning is do is put for but you're right and I'm a you-know-what Mankato is supposedly a hub in the city you realize last year. We had 600 seniors graduate from our high school and we've got 400 in Cumming kindergartener. We're finding depopulation and were where one of the healthy communities in the state. So I think those are commission's we got to think about On the plus side that might be a way of repopulating the rural areas because a lot of these are building sites that were proved. So you Farm Homestead so that people are buying and those are the areas have been set aside on a hill or not necessarily tillable. So in a way that helps maintain some of our world population ecology life that we've come to know people are very mobile now and it's and it's not uncommon for him to travel an hour or two to work and come back and live in a place they want to be and that's part of me and Kenny's. I'm the real fabric but one of the exciting things Bob that's that that I'm I'm really interested in except I have to right away say that I am by no means the experts I Carpenter who used to be present at Farmer's Union has really been talking about this and and we've been meeting with a lot of people in the business community and I think this is right up your alley Bob and Ann Killeen is it I don't know that you know as we look at what's going on in in Greater Minnesota. I think there's enormous potential assuming that that we have an information superhighway. Plies the Greater Minnesota, where where I've met some young entrepreneurs who said to me look we want to live in Warren and we used to believe we have to go to the metro area to find the economic activity. We can now bring the economic activity to where we live. There is the potential there so many hard-working people in Greater, Minnesota who work with numbers all the time again, I'm I'm fighting it out for family Farmers, but I'm saying thinking about yet another piece to this who who would be the best possible employees for some of these information technology companies that are developing and I hear is a senator that I should lessen restrictions and bring in guest workers from other countries because he's companies don't have a skilled Workforce will why don't we have a marriage made in heaven where we do the skills development and give people an opportunity in Greater, Minnesota who are hardworking who have the skills you want to live in their Community who can telecommute and you know being a satellite office work with these companies we could do much much more along those Blinds that I think would be in addition not as a substitute for Family Farm And I think we should I think that's a big part of our future I would like to add to that one of those the very great needs we have to do is have equal access with Equity of access of Technology infrastructure is not universally accessible is not the University of ailable. I know for a fact that right now it cost six times as much to access. The net in Thief River Falls has a dozen the Twin Cities. It's just a matter of the infrastructure and then the line charge. We need to make a Level Playing Field if we're going to preserve that and I think both the federal and state governments of God invest in making access to information the education of how to access that information to help our farmers and everyone else know how to use that access. Then I think we can really reinvested in Minnesota on the technology Revolution as we've been through all of the other previous revolutions that we all know about Jeanette they're just it's a long distance charge and if it's just for HIPAA Tivoli expensive, so I think it's really important that we talk about leveling that Plainfield. I think I think you're right on and I think it's probably going to take federal policy along with state but it does cost so much more to do it in a rural area, but the needs are there just as much as they are an inner-city actually the inner city and rural areas have a lot in common. I mean most of the issues are real similar the Suburban seems to have different issues, but we really do have a close relationships with the in a city and a note most people don't realize it till we have to look at how we can partner with with cities inner cities, especially and rural areas to look at solutions for all of us are solutions are a bit different but the issues are the same as midday coming to you live from the Minnesota State Fair Minnesota citizens Forum broadcast number of folks have Come in from around the state of Minnesota. They've been spending their summer thinking about and discussing some of the issues facing rural Minnesota. They've come to the state fair today to share their suggestions and joining us here on the stage to react to those six suggestions other US senator Paul wellstone State Representative, Bob Ness, who is the chair of the Minnesota house Agriculture and rural development finance committee and Colleen Lannon cameras with us as well Blue Earth County Commissioner chair of the National Association of counties. Rural, Lori Sturdevant Star Tribune is standing by glad Lori from the rental property in a session with something about the housing issue that's facing some of rural, Minnesota. Welcome. My experience has been mostly Urban housing, but I know that there's a real need for housing in a small towns and also Improvement of housing in the pharmacist themselves farmers are done pretty well about improving your own housing, but there's just not enough of it in small towns. So I think that's needs to be addressed in area, but my relatives and friends out in the farming area tell me that there's a lot of things that they need one of them. They say is is better egg policy. They just need more markets and they think that the market so he'll probably be overseas rather than here. So that's something to work on a federal level mostly. And I know that these also mentioned they need to innovate and one things that they do it innovators. I got a job in town and work on a farm same time. That's that's pretty popular and they've developed some very good farming methods like no-till farming so that they only make about three passes over the field during the year and then he has time to do the other job. Some people are going into retail marketing of their hugs instead of getting a few cents a phone. So there's a few areas like that that's animation and they're really going to have to think one of my friends said nobody held a gun to my head tell me how to farm so he is my own choice, but I'm going to try to do the best job I can and still make a decent living at it and I'll have to really think about how to how to do that as a practical matter what can be done to take care of a shortage. housing in Braham, Minnesota Open my observations in Centerville Stone. I know where depend on the feds a lot for for housing initiatives and I know there's been many efforts along that line, but we're seeing a lot of congregate housing and sometimes within housing with think of individual homes as housing, but we're seeing a lot of senior housing evolving with fries up home. So I think we might need to reinvest in rehabbing some of those older homes that we've lot of initiatives with our our nursing in-home or or assisted-living kinds of facilities where we just need to somehow I'll be sure that we don't lose that housing unit when that elderly person or whoever's whatever Choice moved into a congregate or a larger housing complex at subsidized or may not be subsidized depending on how it's structured. But we're really looking to the feds for some help and add in Minnesota. We put a lot of money in the housing this last time around record amount and I were committed to help that but where you place that and Looking at the population Trends and all the other Support Services, which now ties us into the medical community in the access to a good quality real Healthcare. That's another issue that's tied to housing and how we better for people and how these communities are going to survive large amount of State money appropriated but enough should we be spending more at the state level? I think it's a blend of the FED in the state. I think this time around I think the housing people there's a there's a saturation Point how much they can keep up with and how you can ensure that it said it directed and spent wisely but yes, we could always do more but I think we made a record attempt this last time around his back the last two sessions around to address the housing needs both urban and rural. When young people and that's that's the key to whether young people just leave or they when they they ask that sells the question. Do we want to stay in our community there? I think there's an A and A B part A before 2 and be do we want to and the do we want to has to do with quality of life at all of us look to for our families it will it be good schools? Will there be good Healthcare are there is it going to be business as it's going to be a good environment? And also if you know the bee fordable housing it's very interesting on the economic development front end. And I know you must see this a lot of a lot of businesses say to me the reason why the reasons we're not able to locate in Greater Minnesota is that we can't bring the it's the workforce. We can't find the housing for the workforce. Now. This is a little confusing cuz part of this means that the way just don't enable people to cash-flow the housing actually part of what it is. I mean $8 an hour job with no health care benefits doesn't put you in a real good position, but the federal government Has done a miserable job. I mean by way of commitment to expansion of low income housing tax credit. Whatever it is. We've got a record economic growth record housing need both in urban and greater Minnesota for affordable housing and record low production. And we're going to see Cuts in housing on present course we need we should be doing much better at the federal government level and getting dollars back to our local communities for this. Sandoval has in his background some work as an entrepreneur. He's from Minnetonka involving sales right now. Welcome time. My question is kind of a follow-up or continuation. We continue to lose jobs and Industry from the state. Most recently Hutchinson Tech and Main Line travel announced they were moving out of state the rural communities pressure legislators to work to create a Better Business climate. You know this also follows up on your answer on the housing Senator, you know the problem. There's a housing problem, but I'm just wondering if you're you're in the rural community. Do you talk to the legislators about creating a climate where businesses would be more likely to expand in Minnesota instead of moving to South Dakota are Wisconsin is who's the last ones have thank you. I could speak Hutchinson does my community I represent Hutchison in Hutchinson Technology part of the reason for the shift of the labor is just the labor Supply is just not there. We have 44 Industries and how to send that most of those are high-tech their head of the curb and terms of being on The Cutting Edge of all kinds of initiatives and development. The housing issue is is is tied to that but that's not the problem. The problem is available of a quality Workforce. They can do Hi-Tech kind of things and that ties into education to customize training to upgrading skills. All those kinds of things that go with that big picture but my observation is is that we are we have a good quality work for us and if we can tailor the jobs too that but I have never seen this I'm in I can remember that we we we had so much Economic Development or edas development commissions that are so aggressively seeking development and Air in their counties are in their communities and we're seeing Regional collaboration. We're seeing all kinds of things initiatives out there and that we're trying to respond but we we can't respond fast enough and and it takes time at this is a Continuum from you have the idea. You have the site to have the facility you have the the employee of the workforce there and now you need that business to be a partner that but it doesn't happen when you're two years lot of that sort developmental kind of peace and I think we're trying to address that in a meaningful way in and said the same thing all the time both at the state and federal level just to talk about how how the things that they pass impact real Minnesota. And so that's really important, you know the day Capital the dead Equity capital and just the real Equity the capital that's needed to to have businesses in rural areas is less than the capital that you find that's available in a large urban area. So those are some of the issues that are not Level Playing Field. And so those are some of the issues that we need to talk about we have a lot of business is actually coming and we have a lot of small businesses in rural Minnesota and we have to figure out better ways to help them grow and and celebrate that we have those as opposed to just looking for the big one to come in. Hey, well, Bob Hansen is also with us Bob's a retired Insurance official who lives in Minneapolis for used to spend a lot of time driving around real Minnesota. And so you seen these communities 20 + 30 + 40 years ago. They look a little different today. Some of them do Bob. Welcome with you coming today is correct. I spell is traveling rural Minnesota. I think it behooves us Urban dwellers to be very concerned about this world problem. now that your farm crisis part of it is probably mostly Mostly solved by the federal government are at that level but at the state level I think we could do a lot of things to encourage the development of these communities probably help the farmers such as make sure that we've got the infrastructure that that that they need for development. Also, I suppose we can promote other things like additional uses for farm products, right and that I'm sure there's even more additional things we can think of but an urban person should be very concerned about this as that one of you messing up there for one thing. We don't lie to all those farmers and country people moving into the Minneapolis already crowded enough. Thank you egg kind of thing. If you don't have the infrastructure business doesn't come and you can't build it if you don't have a tax base. So it's it's you know, that's cyclical thing that we have to figure out how we get the infostore. Turn row Minnesota and there's a significant infrastructure there that we don't want to lose but there's also an infrastructure that is needed in order to make them viable. What are you better off doing since your Statewide official you speak to a Statewide audience? What arguments do you do you use to engage World Urban residents rather than the problems of today. Well again, I'll divide into Parts on the on the Family Farm part laureates, but we were talking about earlier. It was about all the ways in which a family farm structure of Agriculture is really very much in our national interest much less Minnesota's interest. The second part of it is just it's just who we are as Minnesota. I mean part of who we are is Metro but part of who we are is greater Minnesota. It's what makes Minnesota such a rich and and wonderful State and I think my emphasis is is really goes back to the original question, which is we ought to be doing everything we can calling teachers in the word place. We ought to be doing everything we can to enable people to be able to live in their communities with dignity to be self-sufficient self-reliant for the communities to be self-sufficient self-reliant. I would put I would far rather focus on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in communities where People who make the Kaplan vestment decisions live in the communities and care about the communities that have people make those decisions over martinis halfway across the world. So I don't look for the big bringing in the big big big shots with lots of smaller businesses and education. I think all of us agree that every child have the same opportunity regardless of where he or she lives we have another another question from Gene sandbaggers. Jean is a farmer from Hills, Minnesota to Southwestern Minnesota. Welcome to ask some questions here. My concern is that you know, we have the the cheapest food in the world. Some of the safest food in the world and it's growing on some of those the most environmentally friendly ground in the world right now that's being threatened and the production agriculture is being threatened by the people that are producing and distributing our food. Now, we've been to Washington. We've been to Saint Paul we've tried to change egg policy in the past. But what did ultimately comes down to is our lawmakers aren't reacting quick enough to the situation. My concern is how do we get lawmakers to start listening to Farmers to rural communities and develop egg policies that are going to protect us in order to compete with other parts of the world when our politicians are working for bigger industry term limits have been discussed. We've looked at political contributions. But how do we get the money out of politicians pockets and get voters to Take Back Control of our egg policies What gene I think right now, I'm sorry, I bothered you quickly right now. The problem is X not neutral and I think if we don't change this over the next year, we're just going to lose the generation of producers. I think we're all America is going to have to take a stand. I think we're going to have to crank up the pressure. I think some of that's been going on in the midwest right now including here in Minnesota. I think it's going to have to be lots of face-to-face meetings. I think there's going to have to be a strong bold voice a lot of powerful direct action with dignity. I think we're just going to have to really put the pressure on people like we've never done before otherwise, I don't think the policy is going to change. This is been a creepy disaster that people don't buy something the next week. It's it's been creeping up on us. It's not like the tornado disaster that it comes in you hit people come in the face. Come on, everybody comes and helps you clean up gives you money to to rebuild and you go on this is been just a slow process and I think it's going to take a multi-pronged approach in order to change that I think their short-term fixes and but then you got to look at long-term. How are you going to react long-term in rural areas. I believe that we have not been out enough in the communities. I have been out now since I've been chair the egg finance committee and we've had hearing that I've got twenty one more hearing scheduled. It's been my observation even on the feedlot the fee Mac peace in the mpca and that piece we weren't going out and listening to farmer farmer's, you know, the hearings were in St. Paul. We we change that Paradigm. So they're going out now I'm taking testimony where Farmers have access to their convenience for him put in the policy decisions. I'm committed. I know all those in my committee we care. We're trying to listen to Trying to understand the issues were trying to formulate policy that has immediate concern address but also addresses the long-term to help his evolve out of this and whether that's more investment and value-added my developing markets access to Ports a price reporting price Discovery all those kinds of things. We put money into research. We put more money into trying to help farmers emani's our debt all those kinds of things with Farm Advocates etcetera. So big picture wise we're willing to listen or a phone call or let her away and I'll guarantee I will be down in your area again until try listening to try gather the best of ideas and translate them into good policy folks. Unfortunately. We are out of time here. It is gone quickly this first hour. Now this evening or Minnesota citizens Forum conversation about Rome, Minnesota will continue at 7 tonight here in Minnesota Public Radio public television Center, Wellston, And there's a Republican senator Rod grams will be Fielding some more comments from Forum participants also on hand for that program to representatives from the bench or Administration State agriculture commissioner Gene higgason and state planning director Dean Barclay that program will begin at 7 tonight. It's going to be on TV as well as on radio channel to hear in the Twin Cities, and if you're on here at the fair, you can stop by the Star Tribune and watch the program as it appears our panelists this our again Center Paul wellstone State Representative Bob Ness and Blue Earth County Commissioner Colleen Land Camera. Thanks to all of you for joining us today. Thank you Lori Sturdevant for handling the moderator duties. I'm Gary I can thank tune again. I'm Lorna Benson on Mondays all things considered a young teacher battles homesickness and misbehaving students in a one-room schoolhouse on the southern, Minnesota Prairie the next in our Minnesota Century series Monday on All Things Considered Listen to Minnesota Public Radio. We have a cloudy sky at 66 degrees at Kennedy Avenue FM 91.1 Minneapolis. And st. Paul the chance for some rain says the weather forecast so far no rain out here high temperature around 70 and 30% chance for rain tonight partly cloudy in the cities tomorrow.