Ventura: Today it is my privilege to announce a new business agreement between a Japanese and a Minnesota company.In a fancy Tokyo steakhouse on Friday afternoon, Ventura announced a big new export contract for Ellison Meat Company, a farmer-owned pork-packaging company based in Pipestone. Every month, Ellison will sell the Nichimen Corporation almost 40,000 pounds of premium pork center loins and other processed cuts that sell for more than commodity pork usually does. The Governor says the deal is a perfect example of what family farmers can do when, in his words, "they get motivated."
Ventura: They can take the initiative, be aggressive, band together along with Ellison Meats, and then work with the government -- not a dependency -- but working hand in hand with the trade mission over here in Japan to be extremely successful.Ventura has played up the Ellison export deal on this Japan trip, dropping hints all week that he had a "big announcement" in store for reporters. He says his administration helped "facilitate" the deal, even though the Japanese and U.S. businesses have been talking since before he took office. His agriculture commissioner, Gene Hugoson, says the governor can take some credit for the deal.
Hugoson: Now the fact that Governor Ventura was coming here as part of this trip, I think it's fair to say, probably speeded some things up from taking place, simply because he's a recognizable individual, and it was a case of helping to bring some things together more quickly than they would have otherwise.Still, Governor Ventura's enthusiasm for value-added agriculture has its limits. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association has been trying all trip to get him to pay attention to one of THEIR Japanese products -- sports shirts made out of corn starch. Association president Gerry Tumbleson has followed Ventura all the way from Minneapolis, in hopes of getting a few minutes to tell him about the product. On Tuesday afternoon, Tumbleson slipped onto the governor's bus, and came off the bus confident that he'd made a good impression.
MPR: You're saying the deal closed faster because of Ventura?
Hugoson: That's my judgement.
Tumbleson: It turned out fantastic, because he understands where we're coming from and we love what he's doing. He understands now that the shirt that I'm wearing is made here in Japan, but it's our corn that made it.Tumbleson is hoping to get a corn-starch shirt factory built in Minnesota; he was optimistic that the governor would wear the shirt he'd given him as a way of publicizing the product. But two days later, talking to his spokesman, Ventura seemed to have forgotten all about corn-starch shirts.
Ventura: A what?And the corn-starch shirt fell victim to the governor's schedule, and perhaps his indifference.
Wodele: You don't want to wear it? That's fine.
Ventura: I don't even know what it is. What are they talking about it?