Lots happening this week at the national level that impacts rural Minnesota. U.S. Rep. McCollum, D-St. Paul and Phillips, D-Minnetonka, introduced a bill to prohibit copper and nickel mining in 220,000 acres of land outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).
It’s disappointing that two of Minnesota’s federal legislators are seeking to stop the development of minerals on state school trust lands that are located outside the BWCA. In 1978 when the BWCA was created 86,295 acres of Minnesota School Trust lands were taken and since have produced zero revenue for Minnesota’s school children. To date the federal government has not purchased or exchanged similar valued federal lands outside the BWCA to compensate that taking of those school trust lands.
Today, state school trust lands are again threatened by those that would rob our school children as part of an effort to stop mining. If McCollum and Phillips succeed, they will deny Minnesota’s school children well over $1.4 billion dollars in potential future revenues from mineral lease royalties.
$1.4 billion is a very conservative estimate issued by the Minnesota DNR way back in 2008. On the positive side, this effort is taking place in Washington DC, where lately they have not been able to accomplish much of anything. I will be signaling to the governor that its time he stood up for our school trust lands, our state constitution demands it.
Speaking of one of those amazingly rare positive accomplishments in Washington DC, Thursday the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) passed the Senate 89 – 10. USMCA creates new market opportunities for U.S. agriculture exports especially for dairy and poultry products.
Canada and Mexico are our two largest export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Minnesota is 5th in the nation in total agriculture production and processing. In Minnesota, agricultural production and processing industries generate over $112 billion annually in total economic impact and supports more than 431,127 jobs. Passing USMCA is good news, it will take time to take hold, but this should help our agriculture industries in Minnesota and the Midwest.
Many of you may have already become aware, my father, Fred “Fritz” Lueck, at age 93, passed away this past Tuesday. Please accept Linda’s and my thanks for the many kind words and prayers we have received from the community.