ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is hoping for an election-season bump on an issue he’s tried to build into a cornerstone of his campaign: agriculture.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited St. Paul on Thursday to tout new safety net programs for farmers, part of the this year’s farm bill. Franken has leaned heavily on that bill as a key accomplishment during his five years in the Senate, mentioning it on the campaign trail and in his latest ad.

Republicans are casting Vilsack’s visit as proof that Franken is too close to Democratic President Barack Obama. Franken’s opponent, GOP businessman Mike McFadden, says Franken votes too closely with the president’s wishes.

Congress passed a five-year farm bill this year after several delays. President Obama signed it in February.

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