FALCON HEIGHTS -- A passage in Gov. Jesse Ventura's new book has U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone fighting mad, and he questioned Thursday whether the governor even understands the farm policy he wrote about.
At a news conference at the Minnesota State Fair, Wellstone reacted to Ventura's claims that the Democratic senator supports Depression-era farm subsidies because it allows for more government control. "That makes him important. Wellstone wants to keep farmers dependent on government," Ventura wrote in "Do I Stand Alone?"
"I want the governor to understand what the debate's about before he launches an attack," Wellstone responded.
The book uproar is another sign of friction between Wellstone and Ventura, who could square off in the 2002 governor's race. But Wellstone said he wants to set the farm record straight and his counterattack has nothing to do with 2002.
"Every time there's an attack like this, I will respond," he said.
Wellstone is a critic of the 1996 Freedom to Farm law that ended the decades-old system of price supports and replaced it with fixed annual payments.
In the book, which will be in bookstores over the next two weeks, Ventura said Wellstone would rather return to the old system that "amounts to a mild form of slavery."
Wellstone said the new policy hasn't helped, noting that billions of federal dollars in aid still flow to farmers.
"I pray for the day, when I don't have to go out to farm country, organizing with farmers, talking to people who are losing their farms and are in such pain," Wellstone said. "I pray for the day when I don't have to fight for family farmers. Right now, the governor should join family farmers in the struggle not denigrate them."
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