When he announced his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Tim Walz on Tuesday, state Rep. Randy Demmer told the Minnesota Independent he opposed Walz’s support for a “culture of dependency” and entitlement. But according to the Environmental Working Group, the Hayfield Republican has received nearly $75,000 in one form of government help – farm subsidies. But Demmer says it’s not a fair comparison.
In his MnIndy interview on Tuesday, Demmer said he rejected the “idea that government is supposed to provide for everybody,” a notion he says Democrats support.
The Environmental Working Group’s Farm Subsidy Database shows that Demmer received $74,707 in subsidies between 1995 and 2006. Demmer, who is no longer farming, raised corn and soybeans on 1,800 acres. (Other Hayfield Demmers are listed in EWG’s databases but with smaller subsidy amounts.)
Reached this morning, he said it’s an “apples and oranges” comparison. Because the government is involved with food policy, from trade rules to pricing, he says farming is a public/private partnership. Therefore, agriculture isn’t part of a strictly free market and subsidies are warranted.
“The farm budget is part of Human Services, for crying out loud, if I’m not mistaken,” he said. “So when you have that much intertwinement – entanglement is maybe a better word – it’s been decided that at some point that we need a safe, plentiful and, quite frankly, cheap food supply. As a result it affects the market.”
As for words he used in his announcement interview, he adds that he was neither “entitled” to be a farmer nor was he “dependent” on the government funds.
“There aren’t too many farmers ‘dependent’ on that… Do we farm because we have that? No,” he said. “I don’t think anyone gets into agriculture because they have a right to do it or because of subsidies.”
He says his comments about big government and entitlement programs are more about government attempts to “micromanage” American businesses through health care reform requirements and had nothing to do with farm subsidies.
He characterizes the question of his farm funds – which several MnIndy commenters have raised– as a politically motivated attack.
“I think they’re trying to find something to talk about,” he said. “They’re trying to cover up what [Walz and Democrats are] doing to the American people: saying that everyday citizens can’t make their own health care decisions, that they have to report to some national czars…”
He predicted, “There will be more attempts to take cheapshots.”