Congressional candidate Brad Finstad speaks with ag producers in Eyota

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Jul. 22—EYOTA — While standing in the central walkway of a dairy barn, with rows of cows on either side, Congressional candidate Brad Finstad spoke with local producers Friday about the challenges facing the agriculture business.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association hosted the informal event as a way to "build a greater understanding of modern farm practices and develop relationships with candidates from both political parties," according to a press statement.

"If we want our kids to come back and live, work and play in rural Minnesota, we have to make sure they have the opportunities that they'd have anywhere else," Finstad told members of the Corn Growers Association.

Finstad beat out a crowded field in the primary election to become the GOP candidate

for the special election to fill the 1st Congressional District seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Jim Hagedorn. The 1st Congressional District stretches along the width of southern Minnesota.

From the New Ulm area, Finstad is a farmer himself. On Friday, he spoke with other producers about everything from the cost of diesel and fertilizer to the generational changes in farming practices.

"My father, who retired a few years ago, was a hands on the tractor, hands on the wheel guy. He said 'When you start installing auto-steering in this stuff, I'm done,'" Finstad said. "I consider myself a transitional farmer. I still like my hands on the wheel, but I also like to put the auto-steer on. But then I have my son who's like, 'I'm going to plant corn; I'm going to watch Netflix.'"

Finstad said he decided to enter the congressional race because he wants to leave things better for the next generation — and he doesn't see that happening under the current circumstances.

During his campaign for the upcoming election, he says he's been hearing consistent concerns from residents throughout the district: The cost of fuel, inflation at the grocery store, and concerns about their future savings.

Although agricultural issues aren't the only things the future representative will have to deal with, it's reassuring for some producers to have a representative with an understanding of the business.

"My personal feelings are that somebody with an agricultural background definitely has a lot more of our views in mind when they go up to the capitol," said Ben Storm, chairman of the Olmsted-Wabasha County Corn and Soybean Growers. "It's a complex business, and having somebody that grew up with it and understands it makes me feel better personally."