Congressional candidates debate issues at Farmfest

Rep. Tim Walz, D-1st District, and Randy Demmer, a Republican who is campaigning for the 1st District seat, talk following the Congressional Candidate forum at Farmfest.


GILFILLAN, Minn. - Shelley Madore admitted she wasn't familiar with possible
changes to dairy policy or programs like those proposed by the Holstein
Association, but the Second Congressional candidate stressed she was willing to learn.

Madore was one of nine candidates taking part in a Farmfest Congressional Candidate forum last week.

"At least I showed up," she said in closing remarks, referring to the absence of the candidate she's challenging, John Kline, R-2nd District.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-6th District, who was also a no-show for the debate.


The candidates, including incumbents Rep. Congressman Collin Peterson, D-7th District, and Rep. Congressman Tim Walz, D-1st District,  faced questions asked by a
panel of ag media.

Other candidates taking part were Peterson challengers Republican Lee Byberg and Alan Roebke and Glen Menze of the Independence party.

Walz challengers included Republican Randy Demmer and Independence Party candidate Steven Wilson. Sixth District candidate Tarryl Clark, a Democrat, was also on the panel.

Topics ranged from cap and trade to immigration policies.

Walz voted in favor of cap and trade legislation telling the Farmfest crowd that the government has sent over a billion and a half dollars a day to three countries that support terrorism and who hate us.

"You know what, they'll hate us for free," he said. "We don't need to incentivize them by being dependent on foreign oil. We can create jobs here."

Demmer, a candidate for the 1st District seat, called cap and trade a tax.

"Cap and trade is not an energy policy," he said. "It's a tax. It's an energy tax and it falls particularly hard on agriculture."


Seventh Congressional District candidates were asked how immigration and immigration policies might impact agriculture.

Menze said immigration concerns are not just focused on people coming from the south. Policies should also consider keeping undesirables out. Menze proposed developing a work program allowing immigrations jobs if the jobs are available.

Immigrants are important to agriculture, Peterson said. Their work is especially crucial to the fruit and vegetable industries and to dairy.

Peterson has been working on legislation for the past eight years that would allow fruit and vegetable workers to be in the U.S. During the growing and harvest seasons. The workers would be allowed to return to their home country when the work is complete.

Dairy workers would be able to work in the U.S. For a three-year period according to the legislation's wording, he said.

"The reality is, if we don't keep involving these immigrants, then, down the road, we will be importing food from other countries," he said.

Byberg said the number of illegal immigrants increased after a 1987 policy developed by then president Ronald Reagan and a Democratic Congress. He proposes changing initiatives that draw people to the U.S. such as the country's welfare system.

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