issue becomes, we have a state agency and the reason I address this to the federal level is because 80 percent, I believe, of the funding for this highway comes from the federal government. The issue is, we have a Wetland Conservation Act in this state. Some of us agree with it. I live on a 240-acre family farm. We have CRP, et cetera, we have had to abide by the law since I was less than 49 years old.
The issue is, we also have the Federal Wetland Act, Federal Wetland Laws on the books. The issue really becomes this, it’s a very simple issue. You can go over to the AGRA News, which they distributed over here. I’m on the front page, no big deal, but you can go to our web site which is environmentaloutcry.org, you can read about us. The point that I want to make is very simple. For a railroad, the federal government did a service transportation board and approved the railroad marshaling yard. By having a marshaling yard, the MNDOT was going to allow the road to go around the marshaling yard and avoid seven acres of medium quality wetland. When DM&E railroad dropped that proposal, MNDOT reverted back to going through seven acres of wetland.
The point that I am making to you is this, Mr. Secretary. If it’s good enough to reserve seven acres of wetland for a railroad marshaling yard, it should be good enough to save seven acres of valuable resources in a county that has lost over 97 percent of historic wetlands. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir.
MODERATOR: The next question, please.
VOICE: Secretary Johanns, welcome to the state of 10,000 lakes. I like starting by that because I like to talk about water and the importance of water to the area here in southern Minnesota. We are talking about good drinking water. It’s in very short supply in some areas in southern Minnesota, western Minnesota, the Dakotas, in your state of Nebraska as rural water systems.
I manage a rural water system that supplies water to 1,500 homes in eight small communities in southwest Minnesota. We serve a population of 5,000 people. Those people thank you and they thank USDA for their past support in the rural utilities programs.
Recently our system was awarded a substantial loan and grant package and those people thank you. Fifteen hundred additional people in southern Minnesota thank you. My point is we have 1,000 more families in southern Minnesota that are asking us for potable water so they can have it on their family farms so they can raise livestock, so they can continue in the family business. Your help and the agency’s help from USDA in giving rural water systems in small communities that money needed for infrastructure use is a vital key and I would appreciate your continued support in the 2007 Farm Bill.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir. Let’s move to this microphone. Your question, please?