Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest

If the plans of a group of investors called Great Lakes Basin Transportation get the go-ahead, the Midwest could soon be home to the nation’s largest new railroad project in more than a century.

The idea behind this proposed 278-mile rail line is to allow some freight traffic to bypass the Chicago rail yards, where congestion caused by the greatest density of rail lines in the world can tie up freight for 30 hours. Current projections show traffic in this rail hub...

CSG Midwest

Farmers in the states and provinces that make up CSG Midwest’s Midwestern Legislative Conference are the most prolific producers of edible protein in the world. This is an enviable position to be in, especially at a time when demand for high-protein diets is on the rise, and a new binational partnership is seeking to make the most of this regional economic advantage. Developed by the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis, the “Protein Highway” initiative encompasses three...

CSG Midwest
For North Dakota Sen. Terry Wanzek, recently passed legislation in his state to provide exemptions to a ban on corporate hog and dairy farming is all about the preservation of the family farm — including his own.
“My cousin owns a dairy farm next door to our crop farm,” explains Wanzek, who sponsored SB 2351 last year. “He is investing heavily in updated facilities, but if we wanted to incorporate together to add value to my crops, any corporation would be illegal should our children inherit it, because they are not closely enough related.”
SB 2351, passed by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, would provide the necessary exemptions. Specifically, it would allow corporations to own up to 640 acres for a dairy or hog farm; corporate ownership of any other type of farming operation, or of farmland, would remain illegal in North Dakota.
“We have to provide ways for family farms to grow and continue to the next generation,” Wanzek says.
But opponents of the legislation (including the North Dakota Farmers Union) say SB 2351 is not the answer, and they gathered enough signatures to force a statewide vote on it in June. A “no” vote would mean that corporate dairy and hog farms owned by individuals further apart than three degrees of kinship would remain illegal.
CSG Midwest
Ask Minnesota Sen. Matt Schmit what his rural communities in Greater Minnesota need to prosper, and it doesn’t take long before the discussion turns to the importance of having high-speed Internet. “A good share of our rural homes and busi­nesses still lack access to Minnesota’s very modest speed goals,” he says.
Schmit is not the only state lawmaker concerned about this lack of connectivity. Six years ago, the Legislature passed a bill calling for all Minnesotans to have access to those “modest speed goals” (10 megabits per second download and 5 Mbps upload) by 2015. As of last year, however, only 78 percent of households met that standard.
CSG Midwest
America’s farmers are aging, fast. According to the 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture census, the average age is now 58, up from 50 in 1982 and now nearing the average retirement age in this country (it is 62, a recent Gallup poll found). But there might be a younger group that could at least be part of the nation’s next generation of farmers — military veterans, particularly those seeking new career opportunities as they return from service overseas.

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