Next question, please.
MR. WICK: I am Gerald Wick from Plaota (sp) which is about 300 miles northeast of here by Duluth. I am the legislative chair of the Minnesota RC&D. I thank you, Secretary Johanns for being here. I think this is really neat to have this and have the opportunity to share our concerns. I really appreciate all the comments that have been made here. I just have to comment that they’re all well-done comments.
I’ll say from the Resource Conservation and Development Council, we would like to see applied research for productive conservation on working lands. By that meaning the opportunity for farmers to have choices of other crops, and as I heard of keeping base and so on and so forth. It’s so important and I think with renewable energy being so valuable for our future for rural communities as well as country in general it’s so important.
Just some things about the RC& D. We in Minnesota provide an economic, environmental, and renewable resource for the people in Minnesota. By the way, I am also, like most of the other people here, an energy conversion specialist, namely farmer. Thank you for being here, appreciate having you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
Let’s go to the next question over here, please.
MR. LES ANDERSON: (sp) My name is Les Anderson. I am from Martin County, Minnesota, the largest hog producing county in the state of Minnesota. I want to address the rural utility services issue again with the rural water system in our area. That’s been the backbone of the young farmers in our area getting into the livestock production. To have good water, to be able to use for the pork production. The reason I am here is because the grant portion of our rural development money has been cut further and further as years have gone on. In our rural areas where the density of the population is slow, we need to be back at the earlier levels of grant funding along with these projects we produce to make it affordable for the local people.
I moved to my farm in 1970 and until 1997, I did not dare take a drink of water out of the tap from my well. We hauled all the water for our livestock, the baby pigs and the baby calves, and in 1997 we got rural water. I can go to the tap now. I can also turn the water heater on and fill my bottles for my baby calves. That was because of the grant portion of the money. I committed $8,300 of my money on the low-interest loan portion, but the grant portion is the portion we needed to get the pipe to my place. I appreciate your work with that along with all rural infrastructure including the Internet, the funds that rural utility services provide for small communities for fire halls and different facilities that benefit the communities overall.
We are at a distinct disadvantage. Even some of the communities in my area cannot afford to put the sewer systems in with the grant money because the community would be totally broke with their portion of the funding. I think rural Minnesota and rural America deserves better than that. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I want to remind everyone the Secretary would like to hear from all of you. If you have comments, you can step up to the