Sally Jo Sorenson at Bluestem prairie reports on a privilege given to one special interest

Dayton administration used public dollars to organize farmers before public water meetings

All Minnesotans are equal, but some are more equal than others when it comes to water quality discussions.

In Dayton’s water-quality meeting draws 200, veteran Mankato Free Press reporter Mark Fischenich reports:

Mapleton corn and soybean farmer Steve Trio spoke of his decision to take individual responsibility for how his agricultural production impacted the Cobb River. Working with his son Aaron, Trio has ensured there’s protective cover between his farmland and the tributary streams leading to the river, works to be diligent in soil testing to minimize chemical use, and even added a containment system around his fuel tanks long before it was required.

“The thing is, we all gotta dig into this thing, farmers included,” Trio said.

Along with being asked to speak to the large group — “I haven’t spoke since my FFA days in front of a crowd. I’m just a farmer,” Trio told them — he was invited to be the voice of area farmers in a pre-meeting sit-down with Dayton.

Isn’t that special?

Bluestem noted Minnesota Department of Agriculture to host five town halls listening sessions on ag issues that the rest of us chickens weren’t invited to this meeting–and several others–only farmers and representatives from agribusiness interests:

In conjunction with Governor Mark Dayton’s 25 by ‘25 water town hall meetings around the state, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will be hosting a series of agriculture-focused listening sessions.

“We will give a brief overview of a few MDA programs and initiatives, including the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, and low cost loan programs offered by the Rural Finance Authority followed by an open conversation period,” said MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “It’s important for us to hear from farmers about their current challenges and successes, and I encourage them, along with members of the state’s ag organizations, to attend.”

In short: the governor’s office is using public dollars to organize farmers in advance of the public meetings. We do have to wonder one industry and occuption–represented by member organizations like Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, and all the commodity groups–needs a chance to have the state government organize a pre-meeting before any of the 25 x 25 water meetings.

Why not pre-meetings (again, at government expense) to organize conservation and sportsmen’s groups? Environmental organizations?

Are we to conclude that farmers and their organizations are so incompetence that they need special assistance to attend public meetings? Or are their special interests just better at feeding at the public trough?

Perhaps every special interest group in the state–regardless of the issue–should stand up and demand a pre-meeting with the Dayton administration to organize and select a leader for the dog and pony show.

We can’t wait.

Photo: A farmer (left), who was at a pre-meeting sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, gets to talk to Governor Dayton at a reserved table. Since Dayton was at the pre-meeting, according to the Mankato Free Press, we have to wonder what more they can possibly have to discuss other than a great photo op. Photo by Mark Fischenich at the Mankato Free Press.

Thanks to Sally Jo Sorenson. I went to the Forum in Mankato. One of the things that the Free Press didn’t mention in the article is that the farmer who spoke to the crowd also said Minnesota is “on the right track” and “Mother Nature will heal it up for us”. Really?