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Guest Opinion: Farmers, Minnesotans need all-of-the-above energy approach

Rep. Ron Kresha

Minnesota's 81,000 farms are the key to feeding our families and making sure our region remains globally competitive. Agriculture is also a serious economic driver and source of good paying jobs. Farms and the food industry make up the second largest employer in our state. Our farm families are third in soybean production and fourth in corn production nationwide. Minnesota leads the national in sugar beets, turkeys, oats, sweet corn, and green peas. In fact, each year Minnesota produces over 46 million turkeys.

But what you may not know is that most Minnesota farmers use many different kinds of energy to ensure that they can continue to offer your family those products at an affordable price.

Just a few years ago it was especially difficult for our farmers due to the propane shortage. Shortages cause the price of propane to skyrocket, in order to deal with this price fluctuation it is critical that other energy costs, like electricity, remain stable. Reliable electricity costs help our farm families navigate the ups and downs of propane costs during the winter.

If farmers can't afford their propane because their electricity costs are skyrocketing, how will they heat their barns? Without heat for their barns it wouldn't be long before turkey farmers didn't have any turkeys or corn farmers have to limit production.

That's why it's important that Minnesota policy makers continue to utilize an all of the above strategy when it comes to energy policy. A strategy that diversifies our energy portfolio has the best chance at ensuring access to affordable and reliable electricity for Minnesota families and businesses. In fact, much of that affordable and reliable electricity comes in the form of coal power. Utilizing regional coal resources—like the coal plant just to our south which provides power for about one third of the state—results in lower consumer costs for electricity here in Minnesota and helps drive our economy during these cold winter months.

It's long been a tradition in our state to have a broad energy portfolio for Minnesota families and businesses. Our leaders must continue that trend to ensure we have a reliable energy grid.

For Minnesota to continue as the nation's leader in agriculture, policy makers in St. Paul must listen to those of us in greater Minnesota who know the importance of keeping all options on the table when it comes to energy—especially as we approach Thanksgiving.

Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, represents Minnesota House District 9B