Fighting to Protect Minnesota's Family Farmers  

Paul Wellstone has been a fighter for family farmers all of his life, and in the United States Senate he has taken a lead role in promoting the plight of family farmers.  Wellstone has opposed the so-called 'Freedom to Farm Act,'pointing out its destructive effects on family farmers across Minnesota and the country.  Wellstone has stood up to the corporate interests who have too much control over family farmers, calling for a moratorium on corporate agriculture mergers and introducing legislation promoting sweeping measures to combat anti-competitive practices by agribusiness that have proven harmful to family farmers and ranchers in Minnesota and across the nation. Paul Wellstone has also been a fighter for Minnesota's dairy farmers, opposing the Northeast Dairy Compact, which discriminates against dairy farmers in the Upper Midwest.

Wellstone Is A Member Of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Paul Wellstone is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, a key Congressional committee with broad oversight over all agriculture, nutrition, and forestry issues facing America.

Wellstone Has Called for Reform of America's Farm Policy.
Paul Wellstone voted against the Freedom to Farm Act - legislation that has hurt family farmers and rewarded corporate farmers and farm interests over the last few years.  Speaking at a Rally for Rural America in March 2000, Wellstone called for strong anti-trust action against corporate farms.  He also has advocated raising the loan rate to give farmers more leverage in the marketplace, and boost farmer incomes while promoting conservation practices.

Providing Disaster Relief for Farmers.
Paul Wellstone has helped secure millions in disaster relief funding for Minnesota farmers who have been hurt by floods and low commodity prices.

Wellstone Supported the Farmer-Owned Reserve Program.
Paul Wellstone supported an amendment to the Freedom to Farm Bill of 1996 by Sen. Harkin that would have reinstated the Farmer-Owned Reserve Program, which paid farmers 26.5 cents per bushel to store grain instead of selling it.

Wellstone Wrote, Promoted and Passed the Vegetable Ink Law.
Paul Wellstone wrote, promoted, and passed legislation that is now the law of the land making the government increase its use of vegetable-based ink - such as soy ink - in nearly all its printing operations.

Wellstone Proposed Agriculture Relief Plan for Northwest Minnesota's Family Farmers.
In March 1998, Paul Wellstone announced a package of agriculture relief measures he was introducing to relieve economic pain in Minnesota's Red River Valley farming region. He joined Rep. Collin Peterson and others in proposing changes to federal crop insurance, including adjusting crop histories to avoid penalizing farmers for disaster years and increasing planting flexibility and access to insurance coverage.  Wellstone also promised to seek as much as $5 million in federally funded university research to combat wheat disease.

Wellstone Supported Dairy Assistance Due to Low Milk Prices.
Paul Wellstone supported $473 million in direct income relief payments contained in the FY '01 Agriculture Appropriations that would go to dairy farmers throughout the nation. Based on past distribution methods, the average eligible Minnesota farmer would receive about $6,000.

Wellstone Introduced a Measure to Repeal the Northeast Dairy Compact.
In April 1999, Paul Wellstone introduced legislation to repeal the Northeast Dairy Compact, an unfair, artificial pricing scheme that has brought economic hardship to Minnesota's dairy producers.

Wellstone Opposes the Pork Check-off; Supports Ending the Tax on Pork Farmers.
Paul Wellstone adamantly opposes the pork-check off tax on family hog farmers and supports the results of a referendum by family hog farmers to end the check-off.  President Bush's Agriculture Department has sided with the National Pork Producers Council - a trade association - in opposing the results of the referendum and supporting large corporate hog farms over the interests of family hog farmers. The check-off is an assessment of 45 cents for every $100 in hog sales

Wellstone Introduced a Measure to Provide a Safety Net for Farmers.
Paul Wellstone introduced legislation in January 2001 to protect struggling family farmers by making permanent Chapter 12 provisions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.  Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code is an important safety net for family farmers, providing critical protection for them when they find themselves in desperate economic circumstances.

Wellstone Supported Measure to Help Ensure Fair Prices for Livestock Producers.
Paul Wellstone supported funding for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) in FY '01.  The allocation contained $31.42 million in funding to help ensure competitive markets and fair prices for America's livestock producers.

Wellstone Voted in Favor of Sugar Program.
Paul Wellstone voted in favor of tabling an amendment to the FY '01 Agriculture Appropriations bill that would have prohibited using funds from the appropriations bill to pay the salaries and expenses of Agriculture Department personnel to carry out the Federal sugar program.

Wellstone Sponsored Measure Expressing Sense of Congress That Participants in 'Rally for Rural America'Are Commended.
Paul Wellstone sponsored and voted in favor of an amendment to the Risk Management for the 21st Century Act that expressed the sense of the Congress that 'the participants in the Rally for Rural America [March 20-21, 2000] are commended'and that Congress should respond to rural America in a way that will 'alleviate the agriculture price crisis; ensure competitive markets; invest in rural education and health care; protect our natural resources for future generals; and ensure a safe and secure food supply for all.'

Wellstone Supported A Measure Creating A $30 Billion Reserve Fund for Farmers.
Paul Wellstone supported an amendment to the Concurrent Budget Resolution for Fiscal Years 2000-2009 that would replace the bill's $6 billion reserve fund for farmers with one totaling $30 billion.

Wellstone Voted in Favor Of an Amendment Expressing the Sense of Senate That Action is Necessary to Respond to Economic Hardship Facing Farmers.
Paul Wellstone voted in favor of an amendment to the FY '99 Agriculture Appropriations bill by Sen. Daschle that expressed the sense of the Senate that 'immediate action by the President and Congress is necessary to respond to the economic hardships facing agricultural producers and their communities.'

Wellstone Supported Outlawing MTBE Fuel.
Paul Wellstone supported a measure that would express the sense of the Senate that MTBE fuel should be outlawed.  Wellstone favors biomass-derived fuel additives such as ethanol to MTBE.

Wellstone Supported the Ethanol Tax Credit.
Paul Wellstone voted to block a measure that would have allowed the tax credit for ethanol fuel to expire after the year 2000.

Wellstone Cosponsored The Farmers and Ranchers Competition Act to Restore Competition in Agriculture.
In April 2000, Paul Wellstone joined Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy in introducing sweeping legislation today to combat anti-competitive practices by agribusinesses that have proven harmful to family farmers and ranchers in Minnesota and across the nation. The legislation, The Farmers and Ranchers Fair Competition Act, came in response to growing concentration in the agriculture sector of America's economy. It would have made unlawful unfair practices in transactions involving agriculture commodities, established a pre-merger review within the USDA to ensure proposed mergers do not hurt family farmers, establish a commission to provide compensation for injuries involving unfair practices, and required disclosure standards for production and marketing contracts.

Wellstone Called For Anti-Trust Examination of Concentration In the Dairy Industry.
In October 2000, Paul Wellstone announced his support for the Dairy Farmer Viability Act, legislation to establish a panel to examine the current price crisis facing family dairy farmers in Minnesota and across America.  Wellstone also lent his support to Members of Congress calling for a Department of Justice investigation into anti-competitive practices in the dairy industry. "Diary farmers are in the midst of a crisis,"Wellstone said. "My state of Minnesota lost over 600 dairies last year alone. Concentration has increased among processors and grocers alike, and family farmers have been almost completely squeezed out."

Wellstone Sponsored Measure Placing a Moratorium on Mergers or Acquisitions Involving Agribusiness.
Paul Wellstone sponsored and voted in favor of an amendment to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999 that would have placed a moratorium on mergers or acquisitions involving agribusinesses in which one business had annual net revenue or assets of more than $100 million and the other business had annual net revenue or assets of more than $10 million.  The moratorium would have lasted for 18 months or until legislation was passed to limit concentration in agriculture markets.  Farmer cooperatives would be exempt from the moratorium.

Prepared and paid for by Wellstone for Senate, Rick Kahn, Treasurer.
© 2002 Wellstone for Senate, 2341 University Ave West, Saint Paul, MN 55114 phone: 651-310-9831, fax: 651-646-8602, e-mail: paul@wellstone.org