REDWOOD FALLS, MINNESOTA , Aug. 6, 2014 – Several candidates vying to represent Minnesota constituents had the chance to address the public as an August 12 primary looms.

Five Senate candidates and 11 House candidates spoke at forums on issues affecting agriculture and rural Minnesota communities Wednesday at IDEAg Minnesota Farmfest, a farm show held in rural Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Among those fielding questions were incumbents Senator Al Franken, D-Minn, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn, and Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.

Moderated questions posed by members of the media and leaders of Minnesota ag groups crossed many facets of agricultural policy ranging from rail issues in Minnesota to presumed overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. The House forum featured candidates from four different districts, including Peterson, the incumbent in Minnesota’s seventh district, and Walsh, the incumbent in the first district.

Peterson, who also serves as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, made repeated references to his committee work to produce the 2014 farm bill. He said as the highest ranking Democrat on the committee for the last 10 years – six as ranking member, four as committee chair – he has worked to create an atmosphere of bipartisanship.

“If everybody (in Congress) operated like the Ag Committee, we wouldn’t have the problems we have in this country,” Peterson said.

Peterson’s GOP challenger, Minnesota state Senator Torrey Westrom, made a point to mention the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline as a solution to a variety of issues ranging from rail availability to energy security. Westrom – an 18 year veteran of the Minnesota legislature – said issues with the pipeline and the EPA are reasons that it might be time to “shake up Washington” and that the shake-up could start with unseating Peterson, a 12 term incumbent.

Westrom, who lost his vision in what he called a “farm-related car accident” at 14, also made a light-hearted reference to his vision issues in his closing statement.

“If you remember nothing else, remember I’m the guy that walks softly, but carries a big stick,” Westrom said as he stood and displayed his walking stick.

Minnesota’s primary elections will be held next Tuesday, August 12.


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