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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 4 / 53





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       I joke with people in Washington.  My father John and Adeline had three sons, and their idea of building character in their sons was to give us a pitchfork and send us out to the barn or send us to the hog house or the chicken house, and we would stand about knee-deep in you know what, and we would pitch away.  And you know, my father thought he was building character.  Little did he know he was preparing me for my life in politics, right? [Laughter.] It is good to be here.  I also want to offer my words of appreciation to Lynn Ketelsen and Tom Rothman for their work in being moderators there.  The Great Pretenders I thought did a great job with the National Anthem.  And the color guard, as I understand it was from Redwood Falls American Legion Post 38, and from Redwood Falls National Guard.  So we appreciate them being a part of this. At every Farm Bill Forum we've done so far, we've had participation of the 4-H and the FFA and this evening was no exception. And then to our friends with Farm Fest, thank you so very much for your help in organizing this event.  Look at this standing-room-only -- I could not be more pleased by the attendance. I understand a little earlier in the day there were some Farm Families of the Year that were recognized.  And I don't want to embarrass anyone, but if the farm families that were recognized could please stand or wave at us?  Please stand if you would and again, don't be shy. Yes.  There you go.  How about a round of applause? [Applause.] We do appreciate your commitment to agriculture, and it's great that you are honored.  You are carrying on a great tradition. Well, under the leadership of many in your state I think it's very safe for me to say that Minnesota is one of the leaders when it comes to agriculture.  In one area I can tell you that you lead all 50 states in the use of ethanol.  And you continue to be a leader in this area.  Ethanol industry provides jobs for more than 5,000 Minnesotans and pumps $1.3 billion into the state's economy.  That is remarkable.  And again, we appreciate your leadership.  You believed in ethanol when everybody wondered if this was going to work out.  So you deserve a big pat on the back for that.  You bet. [Applause.] We are doing these Farm Bill listening sessions all across the country.  You are the third, but there will be many in front of us.  In fact I suspect that I will be in many, many states before the year is out doing forums just like that.  We're excited about the tour.  Who wouldn't be excited by this great turnout? But I will also tell you that you have a friend in Washington who is also very excited, and so ladies and gentlemen I came armed with a message from that friend, a message from your president, President Bush.  And I think we're ready to roll that.

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