Farmers Union president wants to build partnerships
Peterson tours state to outline his priorities
By Mychal Wilmes
Doug Peterson is on a mission to bridge farmers' concerns with their city cousins and to take his message of economic justice to Washington, D.C.
The new president of the Minnesota Farmers Union from Madison now has the power of 13,000 MFU members to do it.
Peterson is determined not to waste the opportunity. He toured Minnesota earlier this month, including a stop in Rochester, outlining his priorities.
Price and profitability are at the top of his list. Creating a free, fair and open market is critical, he said. To do that, farmers need good policy from Washington.
"The goal is to make sure a family farm can support a family again,'' he said. "Policy leads to price and profitability.''
Peterson said farm advocates have to take advantage of urban residents' support -- an empathy that still exists because many have relatives living in rural Minnesota.
"Many rural young people have moved to the cities, but they brought their rural values with them and still have strong rural roots,'' he said.
Peterson, who says he beat fossil fuel interests in the state House by authoring Minnesota's major ethanol development programs, wants more home-grown energy. Peterson was co-author of the bill mandating biodiesel that became law earlier this year. Biomass, ethanol and wind energy alternatives will provide jobs that will help the rural economy, he said.
"We can grow our way to energy independence,'' he said.
Peterson, who has been involved in partisan battles in the Legislature, said he can work with others to get things done. Cooperation among both Democrats and Republicans led to the ethanol and soydiesel mandates.
"Rural Minnesota has suffered economically and politically because it has been divided,'' he said.
Peterson, who has served in the House since 1990, will serve out his term. He won't seek re-election and will formally recuse himself on any votes should conflicts occur.
He was elected MFU president on April 13, replacing Dave Frederickson, who was elected National Farmers Union president. Peterson defeated Rep. Ted Winter, DFL-Fulda, to win the election.
Peterson lives on a 300-acre farm south of Madison in Lac qui Parle County.
Agri News is a weekly agricultural newspaper published by the Post-Bulletin Company, LLC.