By Joe Kimball

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will co-chair the Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus during discussion of the 2012 Farm Bill.

Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, is the other Senate co-chair. Both are on the Agriculture Committee, which will draft the Farm Bill.

The bipartisan caucus, with members of the House and Senate, hopes to promote greater awareness and understanding of issues important to rural economies and farmer cooperatives.

Klobuchar said in a statement:

“From small family farms to Land-O-Lakes, farm cooperatives play a vital role in Minnesota’s economy. As we look toward the next farm bill, it is critical that we hear directly from our farming community about the issues that are important to our rural economies.”

Minnesota has more than 200 cooperatives, and agriculture accounts for more than $75 billion in economic activity and supports more than 300,000 jobs, Klobuchar's office said.