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Corn industry makes its case

The corn industry is trying to counter those who blame ethanol for pumping up consumer prices. Corn growers say they are responsible for gasoline prices staying lower than they would have otherwise. While the corn growers say gasoline prices woul...

The corn industry is trying to counter those who blame ethanol for pumping up consumer prices.

Corn growers say they are responsible for gasoline prices staying lower than they would have otherwise.

While the corn growers say gasoline prices would be 40 cents or more higher a gallon without corn-based ethanol, others complain that so many acres are being planted for corn destined to become ethanol that crops such as wheat are not being planted in large enough quantities.

The corn growers cite several examples of studies showing ethanol keeps gasoline prices in check.

"We live in a state without petroleum resources of its own," said Roger Moore, president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association.


"Over the last 20 years, Minnesota lawmakers and corn growers have invested in developing an ethanol solution for today's rising energy costs."

Schafer the 'new kid'

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer was interviewed for Ethanol Producer Magazine's June issue before the farm bill passed.

The former North Dakota governor has a lot of comments about the farm bill process, including, "I was just talking to (Rep.) Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and told him how I got parachuted down into seemingly one of the most contentious negotiations ever. He said that's because the administration's been involved.

In previous farm bill negotiations, Congress just went off and wrote the bill."

Schafer said he's found President Bush to be "very engaged" on issues.

"The second or third day I was at USDA, the president was up in the helicopter and he relayed a message through somebody at the White House to ask me what I thought about something. I thought, 'Really? He wants to know what I think?' He's very engaged. He understands farm policy."

To read the interview, go to www.ethanolproducer.com/article.jsp?article_id4155 .


'Honor a vet'

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has launched his "Vote in Honor of a Veteran" program.

The initiative is meant to increase voter participation this fall and recognize military veterans.

Participants can seek a button from Ritchie's office and write on the button the name of a veteran they want to honor.

They are being encouraged to wear the buttons in advance of the fall election and when they go to vote Nov. 4.

The veteran initiative is part of a larger campaign by the secretary's office to get 80 percent of eligible Minnesota voters to the polls in November.

Records smashed

The 85th Minnesota Legislature's two-year run ended with a record number of bills introduced.


Representatives introduced 4,256 bills. Senators filed 3,895 bills, even though there are half as many senators as House members.

Different attitude

North Dakota state Audit Manager Gordy Smith says there is a big difference between how his staff has been received at Workforce Safety and Insurance this spring compared to two years ago.

The state auditor's office has returned to WSI to do a follow-up review of a 2006 performance audit that was critical of the agency. Sandy Blunt was the executive director then.

Former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness is now the interim executive director.

"Our experience with Mr. Furness has been a lot more positive than with Mr. Blunt," Smith said.

He said Furness has gone so far as to offer to meet with Smith and State Auditor Bob Peterson and "has been completely professional."

Time to leave


Senators were struggling to agree on issues as Minnesota's legislative session neared an end, but they agreed on one thing while gathered on the Capitol's front steps to have their picture taken.

They joined together in chanting: "sine die."

It was a bit strange, to say the least, to hear senators chanting.

The term "adjourn sine die" means the Legislature was ending its two-year session.

Word games

When Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories scientist Steve Chu mentioned at an energy conference in Bismarck last Monday that there is "$438 billion of non-military, discretionary" funds in the federal budget "that Sen. (Byron) Dorgan spends," Dorgan chimed in from the audience.

"Doctor, can you rephrase that?" the senator joked to his invited guest.

"Money that Sen. Dorgan wisely invests," Chu continued.


Dorgan is chairman of the Senate subcommittee that funds the national laboratories.

A campaign cut

As Minnesota's legislative session drew to a close, it was only natural a representative's thoughts turn to ... shaving his beard?

"Campaign mode," Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, explained. "I don't want to scare voters, but I do want to scare folks down here."

Guess it is obvious he is running for a fourth term.

State Capitol reporter Scott Wente contributed to this report.

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