Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) delivered Wenesday's keynote address at FARMFEST 2011, Minnesota's largest agricultre event, located in Redwood Falls County.
Franken said growing up in the Minnesota suburb of Albert Lea, he understands the issues rural Americans face in today's economy. Although he does not serve on the Senate ag committee, Franken said he remains an advocate of agriculture issues as they relate to Minnesota.
"I am on the energy committee and I think there’s a lot of promise for our ag sector in energy, and that’s why I’ve been supporting programs like WEA, the World Energy for America program," said Franken.
Franken went on to say he recently testified before the Surface Transportation Board to resolve farmers' issues with rail competition.
"[The railroads] have an antitrust that they shouldn’t have and it has become very hard for small actors to take a complaint to the Surface Transportation Board and I got them to change the filing fee to make a complaint from $20,000 to $350," sayd Franken. "The STB doesn’t look at this stuff unless you file a complaint so now this means the small family farmers can go to the STB and file."
He is pushing for legislation that says railroads in rural settings must hook up with nearby tracks.
Following his address, Franken took questions from the audience regarding the Farm Bill, ethanol legislation and budget defit reduction.
Read Franken's blog post on FARMFEST.