Klobuchar talks ethanol: Senator visits Green Plains in FF

Source: By Frances Stevenson, Fergus Falls Journal • Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Frances Stevenson | Daily Journal.
View and explanation: Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Green Plains general manager Anthony Hicks talk with an employee while looking at the control monitors at the Fergus Falls plant Saturday afternoon.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar spent the afternoon Saturday at Green Plains ethanol plant speaking with Fergus Falls officials and employees of Green Plains about the importance of ethanol in America and the future of Fergus Falls.

Attending the meeting from Fergus Falls was Mayor Ben Schierer, City Council member Anthony Hicks, Gary Spies, president of Greater Fergus Falls Corporation, Stephen Rufer, and several Green Plains employees.

“I think that it’s probably in Fergus Falls in the last couple of years our attitudes went to the last couple of years our attitudes went to heck,” Spies said. “It seems to me that a negative attitude got going in our nation a little bit and that was picked up in our community.”

The group discussed the importance of ethanol and farming in rural Minnesota. Schierer, Hicks and Spies spoke to Klobuchar about the Greater Fergus Falls Corporation and the “Fergus Falls Yes” campaign and even gave Klobuchar her own “Fergus Falls Yes” button.

“The objective of yes is to try to get people to think differently,” Hicks said. “It’s trying to get people to say well maybe you don’t fit A, B, C but there’s gotta be a better way to get this done. So rather than just denial, let’s find a way to come together and make that happen. The goal is to get people to think yes and think outside the box for solutions. There is a solution to everything, you just have to be able to sit down and talk about it.”

Spies listed Fergus Falls economic strengths as M State, Lake Region Healthcare, and Otter Tail Power.

Klobuchar spoke about the importance of ethanol in Minnesota and the country as a whole. She noted that there are many struggles those in the ethanol industry are facing today.

“It is such an important part of Minnesota’s economy, it employs thousands of workers, and we’ve had some kind of frost-winds that they’d had to deal with,” Klobuchar said. “One is the tariffs and their exporting which these guys do to Canada, and then secondly is some of the waivers went to some of the oil companies from the EPA. The third is we want to get E15 year-round. It’s no longer a boutique industry and we want the investment not going to the oil cartels of the Middle East but to the farmers and the workers of the Midwest.”

Klobuchar went on a short tour of the ethanol plant and met some more Green Plain employees who walked her through the ethanol process. She also spoke about the importance of farming as a whole and the congressional effort to get a farm bill completed.

“Our first priority right now is getting the farm bill done,” Klobuchar said. “And it will really help stabilize some of the commodity issues and help stabilize the backseat that was my provision for some of the poultry and hogs and cattle and then also just be smart about dairy. The second is rural broadband and making sure the technology is available and third is pushing to get everyone back to the negotiating table for NAFTA to stop this trade war because it’s not good for farmers.”