By Al Strain

OWATONNA — Tuesday was a busy day for United States Senator Amy Klobuchar as she traveled around the region, meeting with farmers and local veterans, including a stop in Steele County.

Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., was in Owatonna Tuesday afternoon to present the American Legion with a flag that was flown over the capitol building.

While at the Legion on the eve of the Fourth of July, Klobuchar spoke with the Veterans Service Officer for Steele County Rene Gilormini about the welfare of veterans in the county. Gilormini said it was an honor for the Legion to receive the flag.

“They usually don’t get recognized for everything they do to support the veterans in the community. It’s well deserved,” Gilormini said.

When talking with Klobuchar, Gilormini said veterans are doing fairly well in Steele County, especially with regards to finding employment.

“For a lot of them, it’s a great relief to not to have to worry about finding a job, and that’s what I hear when they come in is, ‘They interview me and I’m ready to start next week. I’m just taking this week to shake the dust off the uniform,’” Gilormini said.

Klobuchar said that Minnesota has been better than a lot of other places for veterans to return to, but there is still work to be done.

“There are always struggles in terms of when government provides services, but the veteran’s piece of it has been a bright spot,” Klobuchar said. “That is not to say everything is perfect. There are always problems in individual cases.”

Klobuchar told the story of a veteran she worked with who was denied benefits after losing his leg in service. The problem came when the man’s medical records were lost.

“They claimed they couldn’t prove that he didn’t have a leg. He didn’t have a leg and he lost it fighting for our country,” Klobuchar said.

The man received his benefits eventually. Klobuchar said it has taken a bipartisan effort to help improve the conditions for veterans returning home.

“One of the things we’ve learned is you can have disagreements about policy and about war, but you can’t take it out on the backs of those that serve us,” Klobuchar said.

The senator was also making her way around area farms in Waseca, Le Sueuer and Henderson to speak with farmers about the farm bill that recently was passed by the U.S. Senate. The bill is currently making its way through the House of Representatives and could be voted on soon.

“Basically, there’s a lot of positive feedback on the farm bill,” Klobuchar said. “People want to get it done. They know we had to make cuts.”

The bill cut $23 billion from the federal budget deficit. Klobuchar said most of the cuts came from shifting from direct payments to strengthen the crop insurance program.

The farm bill makes it way through the house at a time when Minnesota ranks in the top five states for agriculture production. The bill provides a safety net to help protect rural America.

“When you look at the bright spots in our economy rural America is a bright spot,” Klobuchar said. “We’ve got to keep that strong and the exports on the rise.”