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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 17 / 53





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I believe we're to this side? MALE:  Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming to Minnesota to give us an opportunity to tell you of some of the successes we've had with some of your money.  So anyway here it goes.  I'm going to give you some figures on the size of our project -- this is a Garrison Kathio Sanitary District Collections.  Our district includes 16 square miles and at this time it's estimated when it's up and running completely serving 1,000 EDUs, which is equivalent dwelling unit.  Our gravity sewer pipe is 84,137 feet in length or 15.94 miles.  Force main pipe is 46,832 feet or 8.87 miles.  There are going to be 28 lift stations in the project.  And so we are very grateful for your participation in this project, and a great thank you also goes to state director Steve Wenzel who has been with our project since even when he was a legislator in Minnesota and then now with USDA.  Thank you again for the things you've done for us, everybody.  And hope maybe if you find some more money, we can use it.  Thank you. MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Let's jump right over here. MR. CHUCK STEINER (sp):  Good afternoon, Secretary Johanns, Congressmen Peterson and Gutknecht.  My name is Chuck Steiner.  I'm a farmer and sugar beet grower.  Currently I grow 380 acres of sugar beets for a MinDak Farmers Coop and have since its inception in 1974.  MinDak is a sugar beet processing facility in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and is owned by 488 North Dakota and Minnesota sugar beet farmers.  We plant and harvest about 100,000 acres a year and employ 500 people during the course of the year with a payroll of about $12.7 million. Like other American farmers, American sugar beet and sugar cane farmers are among the best in the world at what we do.  High yields and low-costs of production, unlike other Americans we are lined up behind subsidized foreign producers to supply our own market.  Trade agreements like the WTO and NAFTA guarantee access to foreign producers whether we need the sugar or not.  We supply whatever is left over.

           Like other American farmers, the biggest threats to our livelihoods should be the bad weather, pests, disease and low market prices.  But I am sad to say that the greatest threat to the American sugar farmer is the United States is our TR representative.  The USTR wants to negotiate my market away to subsidize foreign sugar producers without even addressing any of the government subsidies in those countries.  Each trade agreement that passes with additional commitments to imported subsidized foreign sugar like CAFTA or TAFTA from Thailand dooms more American sugar farmers like my neighbors, myself, my son to the unemployment line. Import more foreign sugar, export American jobs.  Aside from these trade deals, the no-cost U.S. sugar policy is working and should be allowed to continue in the next Farm Bill. Trade agreements should not take away American sugar farmers' ability to exist, to compete for the U.S. sugar market, and to have a place alongside other commodity programs in the Farm Bill. U.S. sugar policy is also working for the American consumer.  In other developed

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