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Letter: Successes of 2021 and hope for 2022

Among bills Rep. Fischbach recently worked are the Broadband for Rural America Act, The Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus Reauthorization and the Cattle Contract Library Act.

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Former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach Forum News Service file photo

Despite increasing, disappointing partisanship in federal government, I was able to see what can be accomplished when both parties work together in my work on the House Committee on Agriculture. In 2021, we were able to pass several pieces of legislation that will benefit Minnesota’s 7th District and rural areas around the country.

The 7th District covers most of western Minnesota and is one of the top ag-producing districts in the nation. However, approximately one in five farms lack access to high-speed internet. Getting high-speed access to every corner of our district is a top priority. That is why I was especially proud, as Ranking Member of the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee, to work with fellow Republicans to introduce the Broadband for Rural America Act. The framework of this bill was incorporated into the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act, which passed unanimously and was the only major broadband infrastructure proposal to advance through committee this Congress. It provides a massive investment in USDA rural broadband programs, additional technical assistance to rural communities and service providers, assists with confirming broadband availability maps, and offers increased program accountability and oversight.

The Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus Reauthorization also passed unanimously in committee. This law would authorize important programs assisting producers experiencing losses due to disasters, like this past summer’s drought.

Across the district, I’ve heard cattle producers’ frustrations over price discovery and challenges in the market between processor and farmer. I joined Rep. Dusty Johnson, D-S.D., in introducing the Cattle Contract Library Act to provide additional transparency in the cattle markets and increase price discovery. The House passed this bill with bipartisan support in December. An extension for livestock mandatory reporting also passed at the end of the year and was signed into law.

The Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act, another piece I cosponsored that passed the House in December, authorizes funding for research and management efforts to combat CWD, a fatal and contagious disease affecting deer, elk, and moose. With a recently confirmed case in Minnesota, this legislation is crucial to our efforts to prepare and respond to this disease.

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Even with these accomplishments, we have a long way to go for our agricultural communities. Input costs are soaring, inflation is out of control, and Western Minnesota spent most of last year battling a drought. This year, my colleagues and I hope to start farm bill implementation hearings, which the majority failed to prioritize last year. There are also many proposals from my Republican colleagues on livestock, broadband, and disaster relief issues. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle look at our successful bipartisan efforts from last year, understand the hyper-partisanship did not yield positive results, and can work with us to move legislation forward that will benefit Minnesota’s 7th District.

Rep. Michelle Fischbach represents Minnesota's 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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