U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar stopped in McGregor April 12 where she toured Savanna Pallets and discussed topics ranging from the paper and forestry industries to endangered species.

Al Raushel, one of four owners of Savanna Pallets, and Mark Jacobs, Aitkin County Land commissioner, along with staff from Savanna Pallets, sat down for a brief discussion with Klobuchar and her staff before taking a tour of the facility.

Klobuchar talked about how the country is underlogging the national forests at the federal level. She cited The Good Neighbor Authority, which allows the federal Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with states to perform forest management services on National Forest System lands.

Raushel said some of his company’s timber waste is used for biomass energy, but due to the drop in gas prices, some facilities have found biomass to be not viable. Klobuchar said she’s pushing for making biomass more lucrative, and to create standards to make it more acceptable. Raushel said he needs somewhere for waste to go, because his business cannot physically store it all.

Jacobs asked about T3 (timber, technology, transportation) and its rise in popularity in building structures out of timber. He also questioned Klobuchar on the Northern long-eared bat. Delisting wolves from the Endangered Species Act and talk of the impact of Emerald Ash Borer were also discussed during her visit. 

Although Savanna Pallets keeps most of its business within Minnesota, Raushel said the pallets they make are also used in overseas shipping. Klobuchar said it’s important for the country’s exporting industry to stay strong.

The visit with Klobuchar and her staff stemmed from a meeting at the Aitkin County Courthouse last fall when a staff member of Klobuchar’s office visited with county staff. Klobuchar’s stop in Aitkin County was one of 10 counties she visited as she  joined with local leaders from the business and education communities to discuss initiatives to bridge the skills gap and highlight the impact of her legislative efforts to support Minnesota manufacturing and strengthen Minnesota’s workforce.

American Apprenticeship Act

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar recently introduced the bipartisan American Apprenticeship Act, which would create and expand tuition assistance programs for participants in pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs. For workers, apprenticeships provide an opportunity to stay in the labor market, earn a living wage, and pursue a nationally-recognized credential. For employers, apprenticeships provide a custom trained workforce, reduce turnover, and improve safety outcomes, giving American businesses an edge in the global marketplace. Though evidence indicates that the apprenticeship model is a highly effective training model, it is not widely used by American workers or employers. Klobuchar’s bill would expand and support pre-apprenticeships and registered apprenticeships.

– Office of Amy Klobuchar press release