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July 31, 2006

CLINTON VISIT: Senator pushes agricultural agenda in Cambria

CAMBRIA — Sen. Hillary Clinton came to this small farming community on Monday and delivered a speech on what she thinks needs to be done to better the lives of farmers across the country.

During an address at Robinson Farms on North Ridge Road, Clinton discussed the need to reduce energy costs, the importance of opening more markets to farmers, the need to establish an immigration policy that addresses agriculture workers and the need to bring high-speed Internet access to rural places.

“We are a rural state,” she said. “We have to pay attention to our rural communities.”

Alluding to the construction of the Erie Canal, which was dubbed “Clinton’s Ditch” for a time for then-Gov. DeWitt Clinton, Clinton called her address “Clinton’s Pitch.”

“A lot of people thought it couldn’t be done,” she said, referring to the canal. “We’ve got to build the rural economy.”

She also discussed the need to create development that will raise wages for farmers, noting that she doesn’t think federal lawmakers should get a raise before the minimum wage is increased or average wages increase.

She also noted that federal aid generally is sent to areas with dense populations.

“The policies are not geared to helping rural America grow,” she said.

Clinton suggested eliminating tax breaks for oil companies and instead reducing energy costs for agriculture, adding that the use of ethanol and other biofuels is “no longer a pipe dream.”

“We need to look at wind and we need to look at solar,” she said.

For farmers in attendance, some points Clinton discussed hit home more than others.

Peter Smith grows grapes in Cambria and said the speech was “very nice.”

“I don’t remember hearing about our taxes,” Smith said, adding that he appreciated Clinton’s attention to the issue of biofuels.

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