By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Just three months away from Election Day, the Minnesota candidates for a U.S. Senate seat went head-to-head in a debate.

U.S. Senator Tina Smith and her opponent, former U.S. Representative Jason Lewis, took part in a virtual debate on Tuesday. Though normally it would have been held at the annual Farmfest in Redwood County, the candidates shared their platforms on how they would help the agricultural industry in Minnesota.

Smith and Lewis were asked about what they felt should be the priority for the agricultural industry in Congress’ next COVID-19 relief bill.

Smith wanted turkey producers to get USDA aid and more support for livestock processors.

“We’ve had great challenges in agriculture, especially in livestock and dairy,” said the DFL senator.

But GOP challenger Lewis said he wanted crop insurance extended to livestock, and to work to reopen meat processing plants.

“Our thousands of pork farmers in Minnesota have been absolutely devastated,” he said.

The candidates were also asked about what programs they would support in rural Minnesota to help diversify the economy.

“You need a good business climate. You can’t have it when Minnesota – according to WalletHub – still has the fifth highest taxes in the country. That is a disincentive to relocate anywhere in Minnesota,” said Lewis.

When it comes to making health care more affordable for rural Minnesotans, Smith talked about how she had worked to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

“I am for affordable, good quality health care no matter who you are and where you live,” said Smith.

Lewis talked about lowering premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

“Make certain farmers buy the kind of health care that fits their family, not the kind of one that is required by Obamacare,” said Lewis.

Kate Raddatz

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