It was a packed house for the Farm Bill listening session held Wednesday at Minnesota Farmfest in Morgan, Minnesota—and while the speakers were local to the state, the issues they brought up hit home nationwide.

“Proposition 12 is a far-reaching piece of legislation from California. There should be no way that the people in California tell Minnesota pig farmers how to raise pigs.” The comment from Lori Stevermer, president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, was met with applause from the attendees. She said their concern is the cost of complying with California’s Prop 12. “[The cost] would cause small and medium farmers to have to leave the business and have more consolidation. The patchwork of regulations that could happen across 50 states would be hard for us.”

Members of Congress in attendance included House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA-15), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN-07), Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN-01), Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-06), Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN-08), Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04), and Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02).

Executive Director of Minnesota Milk, Lucas Sjolstrom told the Representatives that dairy producers are also currently in a difficult position.

“We are in a challenging place right now on prices but also in a place of distrust and ethical questions between dairy farmers and processors. Federal Milk Marketing Orders help regulate this, but we need changes. We need flexibility to ensure our orders serve farmers and we need fairness in contracting, basic things we’ve taken for granted like written contracts, verification of weights and measures, and getting paid twice per month as we’ve all come to expect. We have a proposal that would help us do this and we’d love to talk more with all of you about that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chairman Thompson said earlier this week that he believes he will be ready to release the draft of the farm bill “at the end of August” and plans a markup “in mid-September,” but only if leadership has told him what week the bill will be scheduled to come up on the House floor.

Click below to hear Sabrina Halvorson’s radio news story for Michigan Ag Today.