MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Rep. Doug Peterson, the new president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, has farming and populist politics in his blood.
The longtime high school art teacher has served in the Legislature, just like his father. Now he's a leader of the Farmers Union, also just like his father.
"I basically got my Farmers Union education on my mom's lap and my dad's shoulder at Farmers Union meetings at the Providence Town Hall," said Peterson, DFL-Madison.
Peterson has served in the Legislature since 1990 where he successfully introduced a bill promoting the use of ethanol in gasoline. He also pushed for biodiesel legislation, conservation and rural development.
Peterson's late father, Harry Peterson, was elected in 1964 and served in the House for 10 years.
In Lac qui Parle County, where the Peterson farm was homesteaded in the 1880s, the elder Peterson served as a Farmers Union county president for 27 years. He and his wife, Leona, were organizers who helped give a voice to west-central Minnesota.
Doug Peterson and his wife of 33 years, Elly, have two sons, Aaron, 31, of Madison, and Ryan, 27, of Pennsylvania. Aaron Peterson is running for the U.S. House in the Second District.
Peterson, who raises crops on 300 acres, was elected to fill the vacancy left when Dave Frederickson was elected president of the National Farmers Union. He said he won't seek re-election to the Legislature.
One of his policy priorities as president will be maintaining the system of federal farm subsidies, which he said are vital to protecting the family farm.
The U.S. Senate and House bills now being hashed out in a conference committee would increase spending on farm programs by $73.5 billion over the next decade, with two-thirds of that earmarked for subsidies.
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