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Poppe honored by milk producers

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 01/08/2014 3:54 PM

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Minnesota's Milk Producers have selected Rep. Jeanne Poppe as their 2013 Legislator of the Year.

"It's just a tremendous honor," Poppe said Dec. 3, shortly after receiving the award during a ceremony at Midwest Dairy Expo, held at St. Cloud River's Edge Convention Center. It was her first visit to the annual expo.

Poppe, DFL-Austin, is chairwoman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee and a member of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee.

MMPA credited Poppe for her support of dairy farmers, the dairy industry and rural Minnesota at the state Legislature.

"We appreciate the time and attention Rep. Poppe has provided dairy farmers and her positive working relationship with us," said Pat Lunemann, MMPA president. "We are fortunate to have her working closely with us on issues affecting the milk producers."

One issue is the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation fund.

"The AGRI fund is an important tool that creates economic growth in rural Minnesota," Poppe explained. "It's the sole-source of funding for the Livestock Investment Grant Program, which helps dairy producers pay for new buildings, make renovations, or modernize their operations."

The Livestock Investment Grant Program was first funded by the Legislature in 2008. Since then, 179 grant recipients have invested an estimated $55 million in improvements to their operations.

he Minnesota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for grants through Feb. 21.

Another issue is overtime for farm employees, which emerged during the debate about the minimum wage.

Poppe said she looks forward to continuing to work with the state's milk producers and advocating on their behalf.

Ever since rising to the chairwoman post, Poppe has called herself an advocate for agriculture. She reiterated that last week, saying she's not the expert, instead she relies on dairy farmers, pork producers, corn and soybean growers, Minnesota Farmers Union and Minnesota Farm Bureau and others in agriculture to tell her what she needs to know to be an effective advocate for agriculture.

Being an advocate and ambassador for agriculture is something she enjoys, and it also fits her skill set as an educator.