Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz visits organic farm, listens to concerns of organic farmers

Farm Forum

First District Congressman Tim Walz was down on the farm on the morning of Aug. 17.

Walz paid a visit to LaVerne and Arlene Nelson, who, along with their son Ross own and operate the Nelson Family Farm in Altura, Minn.

Walz, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, is visiting farms and farm-related events, gathering observations and insights that may be incorporated into 2018 Farm Bill.

The Nelson family took Walz, and other organic farmers on a tour of their 365-acre organic dairy farm, offering the congressman their perspective and insights to various organic farming methods.

“In the last 10 years organic farming has made tremendous strides,” Walz said, “but there’s still more we can do to make things easier for organic farmers.”

Organic farming doesn’t involve the use of pesticides and other chemicals, and keeping their land, crops and animals free of the chemicals used in conventional farm operations is a vital concern to organic farmers

“We want rules proposed for aerial spray (of pesticides) because that stuff carries through the air and affects our operations,” Arlene said, adding that the health and environmental effects of conventional farming took a toll on the Nelson family, motivating them to transition to organic farming.

Ross Nelson talked about the importance of the organic farming community continuing to work together.

“We have to educate ourselves and we also have to inform the public and be more transparent with them when it comes to organic farming,” he said.

Educating the public about benefits of organic farming is crucial because the programs that will be included in the 2018 Farm Bill will impact the future of farming and sustainability of future food supply.

“It’s not just about this year’s yield, but the year after that, and the year after that,” Walz said. “We need to build coalitions with the public and fellow politicians and get them on board with this stuff.”

Consequentily, finding a middle ground between conventional farmers and organic farmers is a matter on ongoing concern. Walz said in recent years the conflict has lessened as organic farming has become more popular and accepted.

Walz said he was optimistic about the finding areas of common ground between conventional and organic farming methods resulting in long-term solutions that will ensure future generations of farmers will thrive.

“It’s my responsibility to use my position to get this information out there,” he said. “The mindset of conventional vs. organic farming is the old way of thinking … there’s room for us all to come together.

“You guys are writing this bill, you’re the ones voicing the issues,” he said. “I just vet them and write them into the bill … I’m optimistic about this and coming to a way to find an ideal solution.”

“The mindset of conventional vs. organic farming is the old way of thinking … there’s room for us all to come together.” Rep. Tim Walz