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Effort generates support for 'fair-farm' rules

An organized effort in Rochester generated about 200 phone calls to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office on Tuesday in favor of so-called "fair-farm" rules.

The call-in activity, organized by a local representative of Food and Water Watch, was organized at the Good Food Store Co-op.

The co-op sells products from 30 or more local producers — from cheese to chips to cosmetics, said Karla Meyer, the store's administrative manager.

"As a co-op, one of our main focuses is local," she said. "Knowing where your food comes from, how it's raised ... a lot of those farms doing natural and organic are the small- and medium-sized farms."

Klobuchar is among an influential group of U.S. lawmakers being lobbied to implement rules contained in the 2008 farm bill. The rules would prevent meatpackers from giving "undue preference" to large producers, putting small, independent producers at a disadvantage, said Alexandra Beautyman, the local representative of Food and Water Watch.

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Call-ins were being organized in Duluth and the Twin Cities, and in Michigan and Pennsylvania, too, she said.

About 40 people — both supporters and opponents of the "fair-farm" rules — attended a recent information session at the Rochester Public Library, Beautyman said. She is collecting signatures on petitions in support of the farm rules.

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