AUSTIN EDITION - Molnau: Farmers will be welcomed by new governor

By Joshua Lynch

Farmers who felt ignored by Gov. Jesse Ventura will be welcome at the governor's office next month.

That was the message from Lt. Gov.-elect Carol Molnau at a meeting Monday with agriculture officials at the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

Molnau said she and Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty will showcase agriculture as vital to Minnesota's economy.


"I think we need to get the message out that this is an industry," she said, "and a very important industry to the state of Minnesota."

Molnau's words came the same day state economists released a report showing agribusiness as a major player in Minnesota's economy. The report looked at 11 processing plants, including Hormel in Austin, and said they generate more than $5 billion a year in economic activity for the state. Together, the plants support 38,000 jobs.

Molnau said the incoming Republican administration will work with legislators and businesses to keep farmers on their land.

"Agriculture is one of the largest industries in the state," she said. "The land is always going to be there -- we just have to make sure the ones who want to are farming it."

Ron Scherbring, a Winona County dairy farmer and president of the Southeast Minnesota Ag Alliance, said he welcomes any support.

"We are at a critical crossroad in agriculture, especially with the state's livestock industry," he said.

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