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Cows, colleges and Commanders-in-Chief: President Biden visits Dutch Creek Farms

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, President Joe Biden visited Dutch Creek Farms in Northfield to tour the farm and deliver remarks on his administration’s plans for rural America.


Dutch Creek Farms, property of the Kluver family since 1957, is currently owned by Robert “Rusty” Kluver. The farm specializes in corn and soybeans, two of Minnesota’s largest agricultural exports, and raises hogs.


Biden’s visit to Northfield kicked off the president’s ongoing tour of rural America, dubbed the “Investing in Rural America Event Series.” He began his speech by calling attention to the challenges rural areas are currently facing. He noted that “over the past four decades, we’ve lost over 400,000 farms in America,” arguing that rising costs, overseas movement of jobs and corporate domination of agriculture have forced younger people to “leave home in search of good-paying jobs.” These developments, Biden said, caused rural communities to “los[e] their sense of community, opportunity [and] pride.”


During his speech, the president announced a series of reforms directed at rural areas. Among these were “grants and loans to rural electric co-ops,” increased infrastructure spending and investments in clean energy, as well as biofuels and solar power and expansion of the Rural Partners Network, a federal organization meant to connect rural communities with available resources. According to the White House, Dutch Creek Farms has been a local leader in sustainable agriculture; in recent years, the farm has started growing carbon-sequestering crops, “farming in a way that limits soil disturbance” and “protect[ing] nearby waterways from pollutants.”


Biden also voiced support for expanding local commerce, claiming that “when a farmer sells his commodities… through the grocery store, the farmer gets about 18 cents for every [dollar]… but when a farmer sells locally, [they] can get anything from 50 to 75 cents for their same exact product.”


The event was closed to the public. Would-be attendees found the Rice County Sheriff’s Office blocking off roads leading to Dutch Creek Farms. This came as a surprise to some Carls who hoped to attend the speech, such as an anonymous senior, who said that they “really hoped the speech would be an awesome part of [their] day.” Jimmy Carlson ’25 concurred: “I was really looking forward to meeting the president, or at least getting to see him, or hear him speak, but it didn’t work out… it was for fair reasons, but I was still really disappointed.”


Other Carls, including members of the Students for Justice in Palestine, staged a protest outside the event. Arriving close to 3 p.m., they joined demonstrators from the Council for American Islamic Relations’ Minnesota branch in demanding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip amid the Israel-Hamas war.


Mimi Rapoport ’24, who attended the protest, reflected on her participation: “I grew up wondering how the world could watch a genocide and let it happen. And now here I am… I’ve been feeling so incredibly powerless, and holding a sign and shouting chants some distance away from where Biden could even see or hear us and worlds apart from where Biden could find it within himself to care honestly felt futile, but I couldn’t just do nothing.”


Biden acknowledged the conflict at the beginning of his speech, reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself “in a manner that… prioritizes protection of citizens” and promising to “significantly step up” humanitarian aid in the region. “We’ve all seen the devastating images from Gaza… the loss of every innocent life is a tragedy,” Biden said.


Commentators have speculated on the White House’s political motivations for kicking off the tour in Minnesota. The Northfield event came less than a week after democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents the Twin Cities’ western suburbs, announced his intention to challenge the president for the Democratic Party’s nomination.


Phillips has attracted attention for being the only current officeholder in the primary. While his relatively late announcement and lack of support within the Democratic Party indicate an uphill battle, he has identified Biden’s age and approval ratings as potential weaknesses in the general election; campaigning in Minnesota could help the president shrug off Phillips’s criticisms on his home turf.


After the primary, the Biden campaign’s ability to make inroads with rural voters is likely to factor heavily in the 2024 election. While Biden won Minnesota in 2020, he lost Rice County and its surrounding areas to Donald Trump.


While Northfield may not be Iowa or New Hampshire, Biden’s visit last week was far from our first time hosting a high-profile politician. Bill Clinton gave his final commencement speech as president to Carleton’s Class of 2000, when students painted his likeness on the water tower and photographed him holding Schiller. More recently, voting rights activist and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams gave a virtual address at Opening Convocation in 2020, while St. Olaf hosted Queen Sonja of Norway in October 2022 and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre the following September.

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