Vote For Change, Vote Coleen Rowley

Local activists blog for congressional candidate Coleen Rowley (D)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kline cares about family farming?

My husband tells me, and he is right, that to really understand what is going on in politics today I need to check out what's being said on the other side. I look at him like he's crazy, since he's never really checked out the other side himself, but hey, I'm not afraid to call myself a liberal, so what could possibly be scary about taking his advice, right? Bring it on you wack-job right-wingnuts, you never know, I just may learn something.

Is it just a coincidence that every time I turn the dial from Air America and a discussion of, oh... the economy, poverty, the Iraq occupation, etc., to one of the right-wing radio stations I get a diatribe of anti-gay rhetoric followed by a tantrum on how negative and unpatriotic Democrats are? Sorry, honey, I tried. Okay, radio is out. I'd already risked my sanity enough with O'Reilly and the rest, so TV has long been out.

Not to be put off, I check out Congressman John Kline's web site, to see just what he's spewing out to the public. I read his News Center column, "An Agricultural Legislative Update for Farmfest Participants" due to appear in August in the Redwood Falls Gazette's Farmfest 2006 publication for - you guessed it - Farmfest 2006. Hello Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

Point one, Kline touts helping his wife's fourth generation family farm as the basis for how much he appreciates all the challenges farming families face. Well, if that's the case, why did he vote in favor of CAFTA, which can possibly devastate Minnesota's sugar beet industry? Must have been Norm Coleman's justification that the survival of just one industry shouldn't hold back all the supposed good that can come from this so-called "free trade" agreement. Even though CAFTA was based on NAFTA, and the outcome of that one has been the loss of 38,000 family farms in the U.S... sure Norm, I can see your point.

Secondly, his military service. Thank you for serving, John. I would have served as well, but Reagan was in office when I wanted to join up, and they just weren't too keen on letting women in. I just wasn't needed... thanks Ronnie. I don't really care what's on John's military resume, because people change, and I need to know what he believes in now. I, like many Democrats, respect John McCain for his time in Vietnam too, but his politics are still harmful to America. Anyway, I'm sure flying Marine One was a blast.

Moving on to high energy costs, he brings up corn, soybeans, and oh my gosh - sugar - as one of the products that could replace our oil needs. Sugar. Sugar beets. Minnesota sugar beet industry. CAFTA. Alternative fuels. Um, John...

Well, there's always OFTA. After all, why should sweatshop owners in Jordan be exempt from making profits? They are special too.

Let's move on to the capital gains tax. Apparently this continues to "burden more Minnesota farmers and ranchers each year," and threatens their livelihood. I had no idea we had that many ranchers in Minnesota, 96% of our dairy farms have 200 cows or less, and as far as I can tell, family farmers are dwindling in numbers as they are forced to sell out to big agribusiness corporations or land developers, and there's that CAFTA thing again. But hey, what do I know.

Okay, another destroyer of the family farm is the dreaded (and punitive, no less) estate... er, I mean death tax. Never mind the $30,000 birth tax every child inherits when they take their first breath, it's the death tax we have to worry about. Poor, poor Paris Hiltons of the world. Now, as I recall when the Democrats asked the Republicans to find even one family farmer who lost it all due to the estate tax they came up with a glaring zero. I guess they should have asked Kline... apparently he knows.
The current exemption for the estate tax is $2 million a year (or $4 million per couple), and is set to go up to $3.5 million (again, double that for couples) in 2009. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the share of estates subject to the tax now is a whopping 0.5%. You do the math.

And finally, the problem of manure. Well, it is definitely overflowing in Washington these days, so I would have to agree manure is a problem. The issue is the classification of manure as a hazardous substance or contaminant that Kline objects to. Apparently this is another growing concern with those darn farmers. Can't they just quit complaining? Which farmers are that, John? Frankly, if I had a farm, and particularly in an area of the state with a high risk of flooding, I would want to have proper storage for my manure. I hear it contains good stuff, like methane gas, ammonia, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and let's not forget hydrogen sulphide... if not flammable or downright explosive, more than one compound is classified as a chemical asphyxiant. In fact, people have died in Minnesota from it. Yes really, look it up.

More on the manure topic... if you don't want it contained, are you going to give your family contaminated water to drink, John, or don't you have to worry about that in Lakeville? The other part of the manure issue is that it can actually be used as an alternative energy source. They use what is called anaerobic digestion systems. Can you imagine... containing manure so it doesn't poison people and the environment, and using it to power our state? Why not give "family" farmers an incentive to invest in these systems, and help solve the energy problem too? I know, makes too much sense.

Well John, have a nice time at Farmfest.


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