Collin Peterson, who represents Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District in Washington, D.C. has been a frequent guest at Farmfest.

What he saw Wednesday morning (Aug. 7) was what he believes has been the biggest crowd at any of the forums he has attended. At 10:30 a.m. Peterson, who serves as chairman of the U.S. House ag committee, hosted an ag listening session, with several other members of Congress also attending.

However, Peterson surmised what may have brought out the crowd was the chance to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas with Sonny Perdue, U.S. secretary of agriculture.

“We’re here to listen,” said Perdue, to the standing room only crowd. 

Dozens of individuals offered testimony on a variety of topics from the importance of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation working together to do what is best for the state’s farmers and rural communities to those who ex-pressed concerns about low commodity prices.

The committee was complimented and castigated for the most recent dairy program.

Peterson said 61 percent of Minnesota’s dairy farmers have signed up for the program, adding many did not sign up for the five-year deal.

“This is a no-brainer,” said Peterson, adding it provides a safety net for those in the industry.

With the recent news that China has said it will stop the import of all ag products from the U.S., many expressed concern about the importance of negotiating a deal.

Following the session, Perdue was asked a number of questions on the current tariffs on Chinese products and the announcement from China.

Perdue said it is important for the U.S. to send a message that China needs to play fair, adding the things China is doing, including efforts to steal U.S. technology, are not the way the number two economy in the world should act.

“The ball is in China’s court,” said Perdue, adding they have the next move.