If you have the time and inclination to dig online, you can find a wealth of information about redistricting in Minnesota.
The House of Representative's Geographic Information Services is a great place to start your search. Go to: http://www.gis.leg.mn/redist2010/plans.html. Here you will find plans and maps submitted to the courts for proposed Congressional and Legislative political boundaries.
On the same website, http://www.gis.leg.mn/html/redistricting.html, you'll find historical info about redistricting in Minnesota, and all the census data involved in the process.
And of course, there are blogs and various news and feature stories. Some of the more interesting include:
-The Uptake, "MN Court Hears Redistricting Arguments," videos available at http://www.theuptake.org/2012/01/04/mn-court-hears-redistricting-arguments-2/
-MinnPost.com, "DFL redistricting map pits McCollum against Bachmann," http://www.minnpost.com/devinhenry/2011/11/19/33275/dfl_redistricting_map_pits_mccollum_against_bachmann. Additional stories on redistricting also may be found here.
Charges of politically motivated line-drawing have been flying from the state's Republican and DFL parties for some time, forcing a judicial panel to hear arguments on how to reconfigure political boundaries for the next 10 years.
A hearing was held in early January before the special redistricting panel, consisting of five judges. Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-majority Legislature have until Feb. 21 to agree on a redistricting plan. If they fail to do so, as many expect, the judicial panel will come out with its own map, which could be based on input from the parties, the public or come up with its own version.
So how does this all boil down and impact the state's agriculture? It could be summed up in two words: Dwindling population.
Says Thom Petersen, Minnesota Farmers Union's director of government relations:
"At the state level, MFU is concerned that we will lose some rural representation, as the rural districts in western Minnesota get geographically bigger, and the ones near the metro, get smaller. Overall, we will have less rural representation and people who understand rural Minnesota and agriculture. MFU hopes that the redistricting panel draws as many rural districts as possible."