Minnesota Farmers Sound Off on Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Jason Lewis’ Past Comments That We Should Let Farms Fail
Agriculture Community Upset by Former Congressman’s Claim that America has “Glamorized” Farming
After the Star Tribune shared previously unreported comments made by Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Jason Lewis on farming–including that America has “glamorized” farming and saying that it was “naive” for members of Congress to run on “not one more farm going under”–Minnesota farmers and members of the agriculture community are rightfully outraged. Lewis suggested that we should let farms fail and that the government should not try to help them stay afloat during rough times.
Jason Lewis was part of a public access television show called Face-to-Face. On the show, Lewis also said that “it’s amazing how we hold these commodities up as though they’re gold or God,” and that “the government shouldn’t have anything to do with farming.”
Minnesota farmers are speaking out.
“Lewis’ hands-off approach in thinking the government shouldn’t have anything to do with farming is a naive approach to agriculture,” said Melissa Roach, President of the St. Louis County Minnesota Farmers Union. “He fails to understand the thread woven to ensure farm security as a matter of national security. Furthermore, he demonstrates his inability to understand rural Minnesota.”
“Apparently Mr. Lewis doesn’t realize that if you eat, agriculture is important to you. Farmers provide our country and the world with abundant, safe, reasonably-priced food. Mr. Lewis said farming has been glamorized. I’m not sure if it is glamorous, but I know it involves long days, hard work and financial risk,” said Tim Velde, a farmer from Yellow Medicine County. “Mr. Lewis said farmers are their own worst enemy. The way Lewis talks, he sounds more like the enemy to me.”
Mr. Velde continued by saying: “Only three years ago, before the people of his district voted him out of office, Mr. Lewis was the only member of the Minnesota delegation in Washington to vote against the Farm Bill. Mr. Lewis’ statements, and vote against the Farm Bill, are an insult to Minnesota farmers and rural communities.
“Senator Smith, on the other hand, has been working hard supporting Minnesota farmers every step of the way. We need Senator Smith continuing to work for farmers and rural communities in Minnesota as Congress gets ready to start working on the next Farm Bill.”
Steve Anderson, a farmer from Benton County, said “Mr. Lewis’s statements go to show that he is totally disconnected from agriculture and has been for many years. When he was in Congress he did not vote for the Farm Bill, which is Minnesota’s number one industry. Just because he says he cares about agriculture now, goes against what he has said and done in the past. His history speaks for itself.”
Steve Linder from Red Lake County stated his thoughts this way:
“1. We farmers are not ‘naive.’
“2. Never really thought of farming as glamorous.
“3. We don’t really need to be put ‘back to work.’ We have plenty to do, we just hate working for nothing.
“4. A huge part of our problem is the result of administration policies. Lewis marches in lockstep with Trump.
“5. We do not need a senator who was the only member of Congress from Minnesota who voted against the Farm Bill.
“6. In conclusion, we do not need a person like Jason Lewis to represent us in the Senate.”
America Has “Glamorized” Farming
Lewis complained that America has “glamorized” farming and that it was “a little bit naïve” for members of Congress to run on “not one more farm ever going under.” He said it’s “amazing how we hold these commodities up as though they’re gold or God.”
Let Farms Fail
On the show, Lewis repeatedly argued that, due to increases in productivity, the free market should determine the number of farms that were needed and the government should not try to keep farms afloat during rough times. Lewis said that “the government shouldn’t have anything to do with farming” and that “if you wanna help the family farmer then let him make a profit in a free market.”
Doubting Farm Subsidies
While discussing farm subsidies, Lewis said he wanted the farms “that are most efficient to be profitable and stay in farming, [but] I don’t wanna say the numbers of farms in America in 1996 ought to remain that way through the next millennium.”
Lewis said farms were businesses and that businesses “come into the marketplace and they go out of the marketplace every day in all sorts of other communities.”
Belittles the Uncertainty Farmers Face Everyday
Lewis questioned farmers’ practices, saying “don’t farmers have a good yield or a good revenue base one year and prepare for the down years? What happened to that sort of marketing plan or business strategy?” Lewis showed little sympathy for the uncertainty farmers face with bad weather conditions, continuing with “aren’t those the normal vicissitudes of everyday business life? Would we say to a hardware store owner that has a good year and then a bad year, ‘Oh, we’re gonna insulate you from the bad years?’ We wouldn’t say that, would we?’”
“Own Worst Enemy”
Lewis said, “sooner or later agriculture is going to have to realize they’re their own worst enemy.”