Walz and Demmer trade attacks, Peterson vows flat Ag budget

Today’s FarmFest forum near Redwood Falls featured the candidates for Congress. The most heated exchanges came between DFL Rep. Tim Walz and his Republican challenger Randy Demmer. Demmer attacked Walz for his vote on climate changing legislation, calling it “cap and tax.” He received applause after saying the legislation would make it more expensive on businesses and farmers. Demmer said after the forum that Walz says one thing to his constituents but does another when he’s in Washington D.C.

“He votes for all of the appropriations bills and all of the spending to do it,” Demmer said. He supported the stimulus, he supported the cap and trade bill. He supported the takeover of the health care bill. All of those things add costs.”

Walz countered that he backed the legislation because he’s looking for ways to make the country less dependent on foreign countries for energy. Walz said Demmer is surrounding himself with special interests like Vin Weber. He said people should consider how Demmer might vote on issues like energy.

“The person advising my opponent is the lobbyist for Exxon/Mobil. I can’t stress that enough,” Walz said. “That’s fine but that’s going to be your perspective. I’m being advised by these folks (people are FarmFest).”

While Demmer and Walz were taking aim at each other, DFL Rep. Collin Peterson was taking aim at his colleagues in Washington D.C. Peterson, who chairs the House Agricultural Committee, said he intends to not add any more money to next year’s Farm Bill. He said he hopes other members of Congress are as fiscally disciplined.

Peterson also criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for being too aggressive on issues that impact farmers.

“The EPA is out of control,” Peterson said. “I’d like to cut their budget in half if I could.”

Peterson also said there’s “good and bad” in the recently passed health care overhaul bill. He voted against because he believed it spent too much money. One of his Republican opponents, Lee Byberg, said the entire bill should be replaced. He said Peterson needs to take a stronger stand against the bill.

“In the beginning, he was against it, now he is stating that he’s not going to work to replace it,” Byberg said. “I think we have to replace it to remain competitive and produce good health care for the future.”

FarmFest invited the candidates in Minnesota’s 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th Districts to attend the forum. Republican incumbents Michele Bachmann and John Kline both declined to attend.

I’ll post the full audio of the forum later tonight.

FarmFest is scheduled to feature six of the candidates for governor on Wednesday. Democrats Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza will take the stage with Republican Tom Emmer and Independence Party candidates Tom Horner and Rob Hahn.

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