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 Response Page - Frederickson  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
David Frederickson Interview of
03-14-2014.
 

Agriculture will continue to be an important contributor to Minnesota's competitiveness

OVERVIEW

Agriculture is a huge part of the state's economic base, according to Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture David Frederickson. Minnesota brings in $20.6 billion in direct income through sales of agricultural products from its 79,800 farms. Adding in processing and production, agriculture generates about $50 billion. Using an economic multiplier of 1.7, agriculture has a $90 billion economic effect in the state, both direct and indirect. Minnesota exports $8.2 billion in agricultural products, ranking fourth in the country.

Frederickson says helping farmers add value to the state's agricultural products has become a priority at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, as has supporting new immigrant farmers through a micro-loan program and working with farmers to protect the state's rivers and lakes.

He worries about the rising costs of farmland and agricultural inputs and how they will impact the cost of production and act as barriers to entry for younger and more diverse would-be farmers. He foresees farms getting bigger, leading to fewer people in rural areas. But he is very positive about the potential for organic farming and said the survival of small, rural towns probably depends on new immigrants getting involved in organic farming. He stresses the importance of agricultural research at Minnesota colleges and universities. 

For the complete interview summary see:  Frederickson interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree):

1. Topic is of value. (8.8 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. (8.2 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

3. MN should support agriculture. (9.1 average response) The state of Minnesota has a vested interest in assisting agriculture because of its contribution to the state's economy.

4. Farms will likely be larger. (8.5 average response) Itís highly likely that Minnesota farms will continue to get larger because the growth in prices of farmland, feed, fertilizer and other agricultural inputs will eventually make smaller farms unprofitable.

5. Small organic farms will proliferate. (7.1 average response) While high land prices will preclude poorer segments of the population from entering mainstream agriculture, the number of small organic farms is likely to grow.

6. Towns to depend on immigrant farmers. (5.5 average response)  Survival of many small rural towns may be dependent upon new immigrants getting involved in organic farming.

7.  Farmers must reduce nitrates in water. (8.5 average response)  Preserving the quality of the state's water supply will require farmers to significantly reduce the amounts of nitrates from fertilizer entering the water.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

0%

8%

33%

58%

12

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

25%

25%

50%

12

3. MN should support agriculture.

0%

0%

8%

31%

62%

13

4. Farms will likely be larger.

0%

0%

8%

46%

46%

13

5. Small organic farms will proliferate.

0%

8%

31%

38%

23%

13

6. Towns to depend on immigrant farmers.

23%

0%

23%

38%

15%

13

7.  Farmers must reduce nitrates in water.

0%

0%

15%

31%

54%

13

Individual Responses:

Dave Broden  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (10)

1. Topic is of value. The interview provided a comprehensive view of the importance and evolution of agriculture in the economy and quality of life in MN. A breadth of subjects which expanded awareness of the scope and variety of subjects involved was used.

2. Further study warranted. Additional interviews regarding agriculture as viewed by other segments such as the agribusiness, e.g. Cargill,. or food, e.g., General Mills, or similar would be beneficial. As would someone from the U of M St. Paul Campus School of Agriculture.

3. MN should support agriculture. Agriculture is not only a key part of the economy it is critical to the food supply, health safety, environment, etc.

4. Farms will likely be larger. The size of farms will increase in some areas and categories as technology and costs increase. In addition there will be some balance with small specialty farms increasing in some areas. This is also true in growth of orchards, vineyards, etc.

5. Small organic farms will proliferate. Agree that smaller organic farms and related specialty farms will evolve to play an important role.

6. Towns to depend on immigrant farmers. The organic farms may impact the survival of small towns but there are other factors that must be considered as outstate MN evolves. Example are a) the types of businesses; b) logistics of supply to small towns; c) demographics, etc.

7.  Farmers must reduce nitrates in water. The agriculture industry has moved positively in the direction of control of the nitrates and other factors and this will continue and expand into other items as well.

Scott Halstead  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

2. Further study warranted. The role that agriculture plays and could play in rural economic development is one topic for further study.  The environmental issues surrounding agriculture [are] very large.  Water use is certainly a big issue as our population increases and irrigation becomes more prevalent.

3. MN should support agriculture. It is essential for our rural economy and communities.  We need to encourage processing close to agriculture production and keep jobs in our rural communities.

4. Farms will likely be larger. That becomes a disaster for our nation as a wealthy ownership controls crop production and our food supply.

5. Small organic farms will proliferate. Thankfully so.  We need safe, quality food that is grown with reasonable impact upon our environment.

6. Towns to depend on immigrant farmers. That introduces the topic of education, a living wage and community developed for our rural communities.

7.  Farmers must reduce nitrates in water. We also have issues of wildlife and wetlands that are important

Phil Kinnunen  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)

5. Small organic farms will proliferate. I believe organic farming has a place, but is more of a fad than an area for large growth.  We still have some hippies left over from the 70's, but they are few and far between.  I believe a large area of study and support should be GMO crop research and development.  There are those that oppose GMO, but if we are going to feed the world and help clean up the environment at the same time, we have to go there.

6. Towns to depend on immigrant farmers. I believe we need to get somebody, anybody involved with farming in general.  [As] I mentioned earlier, the organic farming is going to have to evolve if it is going to become more than a passing fad.  In the end, most people are interested in eating to fill their stomach because they are hungry; they will look at the price of what they are buying more so than where or how it was produced.

7.  Farmers must reduce nitrates in water. This will be an ongoing issue and needs to be addressed.

Anonymous   (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (0)  (5)

Vici Oshiro  (10)  (5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

1. Topic is of value. Don't read many of the summaries but felt I had been neglecting my interest in agriculture and am encouraged by Frederickson's report.

3. MN should support agriculture. Depends on how "support" in interpreted and implemented.

4. Farms will likely be larger. Ecological considerations may counteract some of the influences of consolidation.

Don Anderson  (5)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (5)  (7.5)

6. Towns to depend on immigrant farmers. Present immigration policies will have to change to allow new immigrants to become citizens.

Anonymous   (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

7.  Farmers must reduce nitrates in water. I believe the multiplier effect for Agribusiness is understated.  Our company does print and promotions for companies such as Cargill, General Mills and MOM Brands, Minnesota food companies rooted [in] our local agriculture.

Dale Lueck  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (0)  (5)

6. Towns to depend on immigrant farmers. That statement is completely biased towards an element of the ag industry that must charge more for their products because of the production practices they choose to employ and cannot meet the growing needs of food production in a manner that will support stable food prices to the general public. Organic farming is a production practice that tends to produce product that costs more than conventional production practices and serves a consumer market that has the option to pay almost any price for their food. That does not serve the general public or add to stable, affordable food prices. A diversified local economy will help small rural towns survive.

7.  Farmers must reduce nitrates in water. The focus needs to be on reducing the amount of nitrates that are not utilized by plants.   Working backwards solely focused on water quality does not enhance the prospect of resolving the issue in an economically feasible manner that supports both water quality and maintaining a strong capacity to cost-effectively produce food.

Wayne Jennings   (10)  (8)  (10)  (7)  (8)  (7)  (10)

Paul and Ruth Hauge   (7)  (5)  (8)  (8)  (7)  (6)  (8)

Tom Spitznagle   (10)  (8)  (9)  (7)  (5)  (5)  (6)

Chuck Lutz   (9)  (10)  (9)  (8)  (9)  (8)  (9)

Roger A. Wacek   (na)  (na)  (5)  (5)  (8)  (0)  (10

Water quality, survival of small rural towns, land prices, and fossil fuel inputs are all factors driven by the Farm Program. Without significant changes to the Farm Program we're wasting our time.

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (coordinator), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie, Dan Loritz (chair),
Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman


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Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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