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Posted on  

January 13, 2003

Talent touts ethanol use, family farms


U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., talks with people Saturday during a reception at the Jesse James Banquet and Conference Center in St. Joseph. (TODD WEDDLE/St. Joseph News-Press)

U.S. Sen. Jim Talent hopes to use his appointments last week to the Senate’s agriculture and energy committees to champion alternative fuels and family farmers.
“This is at the center of several different areas,” said the Missouri Republican Saturday in St. Joseph. Mr. Talent came to the city for a reception hosted by supporters.

The senator advocates ethanol and biodiesel technology because “it’s central to the economic future of family farming and also energy independence.”

His support will be greeted in Northwest Missouri, where a farm-cooperative ethanol plant operates in Craig and area leaders have studied the potential for a biodiesel manufacturer in the region.

Such facilities promise new markets for farm products as well as manufacturing jobs, both needed in rural Missouri.

Mr. Talent said he already has spoken with Sen. Pete Domenici, who will chair the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, about his interest in alternative fuels. The New Mexico Republican said his freshman colleague might be the primary spokesman for the issue since Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska will no longer serve on the committee.

Along with getting seats on the energy and agriculture committees last week, plus the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier, Mr. Talent accepted a position as a deputy Senate whip.

A whip helps organize and deliver votes on legislation. The Missourian said this role would allow him greater access to the workings of the Senate and help him develop relationships with other senators that could pay off for the state.

“The leadership can’t expect you to talk to other members and get them to go along unless you yourself know what’s going on,” he said.

The senator believes after issues regarding national security, health care will lead the agenda. The new Senate majority leader, Tennessean Bill Frist, with whom Mr. Talent campaigned in St. Joseph last fall, embraces this issue because of his background in medicine.

Prescription-drug coverage and other Medicare enhancements should be forthcoming in the coming months, Mr. Talent believes.

The senator also wants to support his Missouri colleague and mentor, Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, in his efforts to write transportation legislation favorable to the state.

“I will try to get transportation infrastructure spending into the minds of people in Washington as a job creator,” Mr. Talent said.


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