MAWG: U.S. Senate Candidates From Minnesota
U.S. Senate candidates from Minnesota Grams, Wynia on
Following are responses to questions put
forth by the MAWG to U.S. Senate candidates Rod Grams and
- What's your position on GATT?
- By dismantling unfair trade barriers on an
international level, GATT will increase incomes of
Minnesota's agribusinessess and grain producers. Although
I support the intent of GATT, I have serious concerns
about how it will affect spending levels on the U.S. ag
budget. Rural lawmakers in Congress, like myself, need
more definitive answers on this matter from the Clinton
Administration before committing fully to GATT.
While GATT is important, Congress must also be
concerned about the unfair influx of Canadian wheat into
our border. While the tentative one-year agreement
between the countries is a step in the right direction,
Congress needs to ensure a more extensive and long-term
review of Canada's wheat promotion practice.
- I have indicated that I would support the
GATT. I believe this agreement will open foreign markets
for Minnesota goods and services, including our crops such
as wheat, corn and soybeans. Fundamental to my support
for the GATT is the agreement that was reached between
farm-state Senators and the Administration to minimize the
impact of reduced U.S. spending on agriculture imposed by
I want to ensure that the benefits from expanded trade
are widely distributed, and that protections for the
rights of workers are made an integral part of future
trade agreements. Additionally, I want to ensure greater
accountability in the negotiating process and strengthen
the U.S.'s resolve to build environmental provisions into
- What do you think are priorities for the 1995 Farm Bill?
If elected, how would you become involved in its drafting?
- Generally, the 1995 Farm Bill should continue
the trend towards more market-oriented policies enacted
under previous farm bills. Congress must recognize the
potential for long-term growth based on free and fair
trade under international trade agreements. Also, the
1995 Farm Bill should provide more farmer-friendly
environmental regulations. And we must allow farmers more
flexibility to adapt to the market.
The 1995 Farm Bill should promote the use of
value-added products, like ethanol, continue CRP, provide
meaningful crop insurance reform and fund effective
overseas marketing programs.
If elected, I plan to seek a seat on the Senate
Agriculture Committee and other ag-related committees to
achieve these goals.
- If elected, I plan to seek a seat on the
Senate Agriculture Committee because I believe Minnesota's
farmers need to be represented as the 1995 Farm Bill is
written. I have secured the support of several key
Senators in that effort.
Minnesota lost 2,000 farms last year in part because
budget constraints have limited farm price support
programs to the point that commodity prices are below the
cost of production. We need to do a better job of
coordinating supply management with a loan rate that
reflects the cost of farm production. Measures which I
support to accomplish that goal include:
- Wider use of ethanol and the continued research and
development of new alternative uses for farm products to
increase demand, as well as the promotion of farmer-owned
co-ops to process and market value-added products to
strengthen rural economies.
- Continuation of conservation programs such as the
Wetlands Reserve and CRP to keep highly erodible lands out
of production, protect wildlife habitat and water quality.
Further, the promotion of sustainable ag practices which
ultimately lower production costs for farmers and reduce
the use of inputs.
- A fairer and more economical system of price
supports that target family farms with certain gross
income levels, and careful monitoring of loan programs to
focus resources on smaller, family-run businesses.
- Evaluation of overseas marketing programs to ensure
that they are productive and cost effective for both
farmers and taxpayers.
- Revising the crop insurance and farm disaster
programs to encourage greater ongoing participation and
the use of sound actuarial principles.
- Increasing the fees charged for grazing livestock on
- What is your position on a national health-care plan,
particularly on how rural America might be affected?
- I believe consumers, not the federal
government, should be in control of their health care
decisions. With 85% of Americans satisfied with their
health care, we need targeted reforms that help those in
need, maintain current high quality, ensure affordable
access, while encouraging greater consumer control.
To achieve these reforms, I have cosponsored the
"Consumer Choice Health Security Act," a free-market
alternative to a government run health-care proposal.
This legislation, modeled after the Federal Employees
Health Benefit Program, which has provided flexible
low-cost insurance to the President, Members of Congress
and federal employees for over 30 years, would achieve
real reform without rationing services at rural clinics
and increasing taxes.
- From the outset of my campaign, I have
stressed the need for health care reform. I believe that
coverage must be universal. Second, any set of benefits
must be comprehensive, including long-term care,
prescription medicines, mental health, substance abuse,
reproductive services and coordination of care. Third, we
must maintain the patient's right to choose their own
providers. And finally, states should be permitted to
experiment with their own health reform concepts. This
must include an option for states to chose a single payer
I would support a proposal authored by Senator Harkin
from Iowa. It would allow the self-employed 100 percent
deductibility, much like corporations, reduce paperwork by
moving to a uniform electronic filing system, eliminate
pre-existing condition clauses, guarantee portability and
increase in-home care for seniors and the disabled.
- Explain your views on the U.S. Federal ag budget. Are
areas for budget reductions or spending increases needed?
- With fewer rural lawmakers, Congress has
unfortunately continued the disturbing trend of
transferring funds from ag programs to social welfare
provisions within the USDA budget.
Debate on the 1995 Farm Bill and the influence of GATT
on the ag budget means spending priorities will once again
be subject to intense debate.
To start, Congress should stop giving away funds
authorized for farmers to inefficient social welfare
programs that are in urgent need of reform. In addition,
with international agreements opening up trade
opportunities for ag products, U.S. farmers need the
proper tools to market their products worldwide.
Converting our funding of current export
programs, like EEP, into GATT-legal provisions is one
option for increased trade opportunities.
- Ag programs represent just over one-fourth of
the total USDA budget. The largest agriculture
expenditures by far are for commodity price
and income support programs. Other portions of the budget
include ag research, agriculture statistics, farm credit,
extension service, crop insurance, overseas export
activities and inspection fees.
Over the past several years, there have been deep
reductions in ag programs. In 1993, federal farm
commodity programs made a $3 billion contribution toward
deficit reduction. I believe at this time, the U.S.
should maintain spending on USDA ag programs at
or above the FY 1995 levels.
- Why should farm voters select you over your opponent?
- Having grown up on a farm and serving as a
small businessman and a member of Congress, I have the
experience necessary to represent Minnesota's rural
interests in the U.S. Senate. A broad coalition of
Minnesota's ag leaders has endorsed my campaign for those
I will bring my agricultural experience, fiscal
responsibility and my belief in a smaller, but more
effective and less obtrusive government to the Senate
committees important to Minnesota's ag sectors.
- My public service, both as an elected official
and as a volunteer, has been devoted to solving problems
faced by many Minnesotans. Whichever the issue, the next
U.S. Senator must be able to bridge the differences and
build coalitions to get a job done.
I have always felt that one of my greatest
accomplishments was being elected by my colleagues as the
Majority Leader of the Minnesota House and, perhaps more
important, being re-elected to that post. Serving
successfully as Majority Leader requires an ability to
work with diverse political perspectives -- liberal,
conservative, urban, rural. It requires good listening
and consensus building skills, a willingness to make tough
choices, and an ability to solve problems.
Now, I want to put my skills to work for Minnesota in
the United States Senate. I think it is time for more
consensus-building and problem solving, and less partisan
bickering and game playing on the floor of the U.S.
During my campaign, I have worked with an agriculture
advisory committee that includes men and women with farm
experience, individuals such as Jim Nichols and Dave
Frederickson. If elected, I want to continue this open
door policy with Minnesotans.