Sen. Amy Klobuchar is hoping Congress can pass the long-delayed Farm Bill by the end of this year.
"We would like to get this done and get this done fast," said Klobuchar, one of three Minnesota Democrats appointed to the Farm Bill conference committees. The committee, which must hammer out a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill, also includes Minnesota Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz.
If Congress can't reach a compromise before the end of the year, American farm policy will default to 1949 levels -- a prospect that brought representatives of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union, Pheasants Forever to join Klobuchar at the Second Harvest food bank in Golden Valley on Friday morning.
The fact that a conference committee has been appointed, after months of gridlock and a government shutdown means: "We now have some good news for the first time in a long while," Klobuchar said.
At Second Harvest, teams of volunteers were loading bags of St. Cloud-grown potatoes for distribution to area food shelves. Nutrition assistance is a major part of the Farm Bill and a major reason the bill derailed last month.
But Klobuchar said that after the recent shutdown, a gridlock-weary public is ready for lawmakers to get back to work.
"This is what Minnesota is all about and this is what the farm bill is all about. It's about helping other people and it's about food," Klobuchar said. "And this is what the farm bill is all about."