Monday, August 24, 2009

Canyon County News

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) spent this past Saturday visiting the Vermeer Dairy, The Dixon and Christensen Farms. Left to right: Tom Schwarz, Minnick staffer for ag and Natural resources in Meridian office, Kent, Russ, Dave Dixon, Daniel Dixon, Derek Vermeer, Congressman Minnick, Mike Vermeer, Alicia Krantz, Canyon County FB President, Curt Krantz, Idaho FB State Board Member.
Ritter photo
Congressman Minnick Visits Canyon County Farms
Greenleaf--Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick is tired of briefing papers, in fact he's tired of paper. He told his staff this past week that he wanted to get his boots dusty, instead of hearing about farm problems from staffers, he wanted to hear it from farmers.
So Congressman Minnick showed up at David Dixon's farm just before noon on Saturday and sat down with a dozen Canyon County farmers for lunch under a big shade tree.

The first-term Congressman listened to Mike Vermeer's dairy farm problems. He told the congressman that immigration rules need overhauled, that the proposed rules could seriously hurt Idaho milk production. Minnick listened with interest.

Vermeer told Minnick that dairies are dependent on immigrants and unlike other ag-jobs where laborers are hired for short, seasonal stints, dairy-farm laborers will work for years. With high unemployment farmers are feeling the heat for hiring migrant labor. Without adequate workers some dairies could close, impacting rural economies. Dairy farmers like Mike Vermeer think the U.S. needs a foreign-guest worker program geared toward agriculture.

The dairy industry released a report earlier this summer finding that immigrants account for 40% of the dairy labor force and are responsible for almost two-thirds of U.S. milk production. Minnick expressed strong support for immigration enforcement, and one step further: thinks that undocumented immigrants already here should pay a penalty and get legal.

Just a year ago Minnick came to the Idaho Farm Bureau Summer President's meeting and told the county presidents that he was different, that if elected he would try and bring unbridled federal spending under control. Minnick won the 1st Congressional seat by just 4,000 votes. An upset victory considering the 1st CD went 67% for George W. Bush in 2004, and 61% for John McCain. The last time Idaho sent a Democrat to Washington was LaRocco back in the early 1990s.

Washington is a town where accusations are thick as flies on a manure pile--but Minnick likes some of the accusations he's getting tagged with...especially 'penny pincher', 'killjoy', and 'cheap skate'. "I grew up on a wheat farm and learned what the economics of what farming are, if you don't restict spending on things you absolutely don't have to have, particularly when times are tough; you can't survive. You can't survive in farming and the country cannot survive unless it adopts the same attitude."

Minnick's popularity continues to grow because he's stubbornly independent of House Democrats. The maverick is constantly outside his party looking in, some say he represents a dangerous rift in the age old concept of 'business as usual Washington.'
At the 2008 Summer President's meeting in Pocatello, Minnick declared himself a Blue Dog and “a fierce believer in limited government, fiscal responsibility and effective representation,” on the campaign trail he repeated the message to anyone that'd listened and got just enough votes to engineer the upset win over Sali.

The fiercely independent Minnick even went seperate ways with the Blue Dogs on spending and regulations. He was one of 11 House Democrats that voted against the $787 billion stimulus. He also passed on the Democrats 2010 budget resolution. In July he and 43 Democrats defected on the climate bill.

Congressman Walt Minnick hasn’t announced re-election plans but has raised just under $600-thousand in campaign cash for the 2010 election, including donations from high profile Republicans.

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