For more than a quarter-century, Rep. Collin Peterson has made it his business to be the guardian of agriculture in Congress. That’s been a boon not only to the Seventh District he serves, but to Minnesota, where agriculture remains a cornerstone of the economy. He is a strong example of the kind of legislator whose clout and stature not only grow over time, but is put to good use on behalf of his district, his state and the country. Peterson has earned another term.

His perch as ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee has given Peterson purview not only over the farm bill, but conservation, international trade, bioterrorism, renewable energy, rural development and a host of related issues. From there he has built strong working relationships, a formidable base of knowledge and an unyielding commitment to getting the best deal for Minnesota farmers and the millions who depend on the food stamps program welded to the farm bill. His work on biofuels has helped foster American energy independence.

Far from a doctrinaire Democrat, Peterson, 72, can be thorny and plain-spoken, a political maverick who often sides with Republicans on fiscal issues and who remains mindful of government overreach. The Star Tribune Editorial Board disagrees with him on some issues, but his positions are well thought out, with little regard for party politics, and he is always open to a middle-ground solution. His take on trade is typical: He is committed to robust international trade, but thinks the Trans-Pacific Partnership should be renegotiated because, in his opinion, “we’re not getting the best deal.” On climate change, Peterson said he’s no skeptic, but is dubious about wholesale changes to agriculture, saying that “like everything else, the answer is more in the middle.”

Peterson’s Republican challenger, Dave Hughes, is to be commended for his two-decade career of military service, which included deployments to the Middle East as a pilot and serving as an adviser and judge in Iraq. But Hughes’ positions are too extreme for the district he seeks to serve. Hughes, 47, would ban federal unions and repeal the 16th and 17th amendments, which would abolish the federal income tax and direct election of U.S. senators. He’d also wipe out a third of cabinet departments.

The next Congress will need members with Peterson’s deep knowledge, and Minnesota will need his strong, respected voice on agriculture and related issues. We enthusiastically support Peterson for another term.