During a recent trek across southern Minnesota to discuss the Senate-passed Farm Bill, Sen. Amy Klobuchar enjoyed some “Spamples” while touring the Spam Museum.
Klobuchar was in town to meet with executives from Hormel and local officials and discuss the farm bill. The senator was led by a Spambassador through the museum’s interactive exhibits, and she accepted Spam hors d’oeuvres while learning about Hormel’s deep-rooted history in the state.
Tom Stiehm, mayor of Austin, was pleased to have the senator at the Spam Museum for the first time since it reopened in its new downtown location in 2016. Klobuchar remembered when the initial 14,000-square-foot museum was getting underway with development around 10 years ago.
“We’re fortunate that Hormel decided to locate the Spam Museum here, because now we consider it the anchor for our downtown,” said Stiehm, while thanking Klobuchar for selecting the museum for a stop on her tour. “It’s really helped us build (downtown) back up.”
The senator also found some time to talk farm bill, to which she contributed several provisions in order to provide farmers with insurance, create animal disease and weather disaster programs and increase support for dairy farmers. She also introduced a number of amendments to the Senate-passed text, regarding renewable energy, broadband internet and incentivizing beginning farmers.
The Senate’s version of the bill was passed just one week after the House passed its partisan measure by a thin margin. All that’s left to reauthorize the farm bill before the current bill expires on Sept. 30 is for a conference committee to reconcile differences between the two. Reauthorization is a priority for U.S. farmers and agricultural industries, in the midst of a prolonged decline in commodity prices.
Klobuchar branded agricultural production in southern Minnesota as “an example of how farm bills and policies can work” after she contributed to the 2014 Farm Bill as a conference committee member, where she pushed for measures for rural development projects, conservation programs and renewable energy funds.
“Now we’re seeing some hard times with prices, and we’ve had some flooding and storms down here, but we’ve made sure that when people need help, they get it,” said Klobuchar. “But overall, they are thriving on their own.”
At a time when actions from Washington have caused grain prices to plummet, Klobuchar said it’s important to look out for rural families so farmers and their children stay on their land and weather the storm. Klobuchar said the Senate’s version of the farm bill has provisions that will help them.
“When you look at when we had the last economic downturn, Southern Minnesota was the first to come out of it,” said Klobuchar, who credited the region’s fiscal resilience to the diverse economy. “The great thing about the farm bill, is that we can take what’s worked for the past few years — which is most of it, and then improve it.”