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Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 2/17/2017
Celebration with Archie Hokana; birthday lunch with Dan and Brian Rosenfeldt
Happy Birthday, Dad!
This week I continued my discussions regarding the upcoming farm bill by welcoming stakeholders to my Washington office, including the National Milk Producers Federation, Kaste Seed, USA Rice Federation, Farmers Rice Cooperative, Northern Plains Potato Growers, International Dairy Foods Association, and the National FFA Officer Team. I led a bipartisan letter with twenty other members of Congress to the administration urging strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard program, and the Agriculture Committee held its first two hearings of the 115th Congress to examine the rural economy and review SNAP purchases. Finally, I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to my father, Lauren Peterson, who turned 97 last week!
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
As Congress looks to reauthorize farm bill conservation programs, I appreciated the opportunity to hear a seed provider’s perspective on how these programs are actually working. Effective conservation requires active land management, and conservation seeds are an important part of that equation. Garth Kaste, of Kaste Seed, and I discussed some of the lessons the seed industry has learned about how to provide improved conservation benefits at lower costs. I will continue to push to make sure that the seed mixes used by conservation programs also make agronomic sense.
White Earth Nation
Chairman Terrence Tibbetts and Councilmember Eugene Tibbetts from the White Earth Nation were kind enough to come by my office to talk about the high quality wild rice produced on the reservation.
Northern Plains Potato Growers
Justin Dagen (KARLSTAD), Sander Dagen (KARLSTAD), Chuck Gunnerson (ADA), David Moquist (Crystal, ND), David Fedje (Hoople, ND), Brian Vculek (Crete, ND)
I met with the Northern Plains Potato Growers on Wednesday for an update on the potato industry. We talked about a number of issues including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Potato Breeding Research Program, trade, ag labor and immigration, and the next farm bill.
National Milk Producers Federation
This week I met with National Milk Producers Federation President & CEO, Jim Mulhern, to discuss ways to improve the Dairy Margin Protection Program. NMPF has been having member conversations to decide the best course of action when it comes to the dairy risk management tool, and I appreciated the opportunity to hear what their members are saying. I look forward to continuing to explore ways to improve MPP in the next farm bill.
USA Rice Federation
On Wednesday, I met with members of the USA Rice Federation, representing several rice producing areas of the country. They offered some policy suggestions for the next farm bill and we talked about the common interests between growers in rice country and farmers from Minnesota.
Farmers Rice Cooperative
A group from the Farmers Rice Cooperative in California stopped by my office on Monday. The last farm bill works pretty well for rice, so hopefully the next farm bill will learn from that success. We also discussed trade issues and how the new administration might impact rice and other agriculture commodities.
Fraternal Order of Police
This week I visited with members of the Fraternal Order of Police. We discussed legislation pertaining to pensions and Social Security, as well as my continued support for programs such as Byrne-Jag, COPS and Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS). I will continue to do my part in order to give these brave public servants the tools they need to keep Minnesotans safe.
Minnesota State Trustees
This week I met with Trustees from Minnesota State, formerly known as MnSCU, to discuss the state of Minnesota’s universities, technical and community colleges. I enjoy working with them to address the needs of rural Minnesota’s workforce. I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Michael Vekich, who was reappointed to chair the board by Governor Dayton last year.
As health care continues to be a hot topic on Capitol Hill, I was happy to welcome representatives from Sanford Health into my office to hear their thoughts about what is working, what isn’t working and where we can make improvements in our health care system. Rising premiums continues to be a significant problem for families, and we talked about the impact holding these costs down would have on making premiums more affordable. In addition to providing health care coverage to many Minnesotans, Sanford is also a major employer providing work for 7,000 Minnesotans.
National FFA Officer Team
Victoria Harris (Florida), Trey Elizondo (Texas), Ashley Willits (New York), Valerie Earley (Wykoff, Minnesota), David Townsend (Delaware), DeShawn Blanding (South Carolina)
My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with the National FFA Officer Team on Thursday. This impressive group of young leaders shared their ideas for the next farm bill and how they would like to see it improved to help young people in agriculture. I applaud these young leaders on their accomplishments, thank them for sharing their ideas and wish them the best as they continue to engage in agriculture and agricultural education issues.
Hollis Emery, Brian Miller, Jim Kaczrowski, and Teresa Spaeth
On Monday, my staff aide Zach Martin met with representatives from the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa to talk about AmeriCorps programs. The majority of AmeriCorps volunteers are youth between the ages of 15 and 25 and work on projects across Minnesota. These young adults provide meaningful service managing a wide range of conservation projects from erosion control on lakes to fire suppression efforts to seeding and planting. After working one year full time for the Conservation Corps, participants are eligible for significant college tuition assistance. For more information about the Minnesota Conservation Corps, click here.
American Wind Energy Association
Mark A. Anderson, Rebekah Solem, Tom Carlson, Scott P. Seier, Norman F. Lent III
My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) member companies including EDF and Tenaska. Minnesota is a top ranking state for wind energy production, producing close to 20 percent of its electricity from wind. Included above is a picture of a GE wind turbine in Lake Benton, Minnesota.
Representatives of UCare visited my office this week to discuss the health care services they provide to Minnesotans enrolled in Medicare, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. I look forward to working with UCare to improve care, lower costs and better outcomes for beneficiaries.
Special Olympics Minnesota
Special Olympics Minnesota was in Washington this week to share their progress in facilitating athletic, health and leadership programs for Minnesotans with intellectual disabilities. Thanks to Special Olympics Minnesota, more than 26,000 Minnesota students have had the opportunity to reduce bullying, promote healthy lifestyles and eliminate stereotypes in their schools.
National Marrow Donor Program
The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) met with my staff this week to discuss their efforts to provide patients with bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplants. Founded and based in Minneapolis, NMDP manages the “Be the Match Registry,” the largest hematopoietic cell registry in the world. The life-saving work of NMDP benefits Minnesotans and transplant patients around the world.
Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters
Members of the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters (MAHU) visited my office this week to outline the legislative priorities of Minnesota’s professional health and disability insurance brokers. I appreciate MAHU’s perspective as we work to improve the Association’s ability to meet the health and financial security needs of the state.
Leadership at its Best
Mike Stranz, Brandon Schrag (MKD, Walton, KS), David W. McKnight (Agricultural Retailers Association, Washington, DC), Rob Aslesen (Diversified Applicators, Inc., Imperial, NE), John Ricard (Central Planes Aviation, Inc., SAUK CENTRE, MN), Tim Bratland (Legend Seeds, De Smet, SD), Virginia Houston (American Seed Trade Association), Rebekah Solem
On Friday, my staff aides Mike Stranz and Rebekah Solem met with a group representing a variety of interests including seed dealers, aerial applicators and full service cooperatives. The group was in Washington as part of a leadership program called “Leadership at Its Best,” which is sponsored by Syngenta. They discussed a number of agriculture-related issues including trade and the next farm bill.
Women in Ag Network
Yesterday my staff had an opportunity to stop by the Women in Ag Network conference hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension in Willmar. The theme was ‘Planning our Future’ and featured USDA’s Lilia McFarland who oversees the department’s new and beginning farmer and rancher efforts. This exciting event was developed to inspire, connect and support women in agriculture.
Perham 2017 EDA Annual Meeting
Economic Development Authority (EDA) Director Chuck Johnson and his staff put together a great program and had a big crowd at the Cactus Restaurant in Perham this week. Staff from the offices of Congressman Peterson, Senator Franken and Senator Klobuchar were in attendance. Presentations covered housing developments, education, health care, job openings and many other public and private improvements. There was an agreement that more people will be needed to fill future job openings. Other needs mentioned were more child care opportunities and broadband that can support working from home.
International Dairy Foods Association
This week, I had my first sit down meeting with the new President & CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, Michael Dykes. We discussed many issues impacting the U.S. dairy industry including dairy trade, IDFA’s renewed commitment to working with dairy producers and the new administration. I look forward to working closely with IDFA as we gear up for a new farm bill.
Representatives from Thrivent Financial met with my staff this week to discuss potential tax reform. Thrivent started in the Lutheran Church but is now open to all non-Lutheran Christians. It is headquartered in Minneapolis and provides financial services and counseling to its members while working to improve their communities at large. Thrivent continues to stand as a good example of the positive impact a community organization can make.
Minnesota National Guard
Staff aide Chris Iacaruso sat down with Minnesota National Guard officials to discuss educational benefits for its soldiers. The Guard offers tuition assistance through the GI Bill. For more information please visit MN National Guard’s website.
Renewable Fuel Standard Letter
This week I led a bipartisan letter with twenty other members of Congress to the administration in strong support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. As a co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, it is important to illustrate how the Renewable Fuel Standard creates jobs and strengthens rural economies, especially during a transitioning administration. I am pleased with the bipartisan support for this letter and will continue to advocate for a robust Renewable Fuel Standard in the years to come.
House Agriculture Committee Update
On Wednesday the House Agriculture Committee held its first hearing of the 115th Congress titled, “Rural Economic Outlook: Setting the Stage for the Next Farm Bill.” The hearing was an opportunity for the Committee to review testimony from agriculture economists on the current economic conditions in rural America. Over the last few years we’ve witnessed significant reductions in net farm income. Fortunately, this year’s strong yields offset these low prices. But, I worry that we will be in for a world of hurt if prices stay where they are and we don’t get such big yields. I urged the Committee to keep this in mind as we begin writing the next farm bill and stressed that we should write the bill based on what’s needed, not some outside budget force.
On Thursday, the Committee approved two pieces of legislation, The Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017 (H.R. 1029) and the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017 (H.R. 953). The Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act’s goal has been to create a more predictable and effective evaluation process, promote shorter review periods for reduced-risk pesticides, and enhance scientific and regulatory activities related to farm worker protection. The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act alleviates additional permitting requirements that would have little to no environmental benefit. This is the sixth year the Agriculture Committee is attempting to alleviate this burden by restoring Congressional intent and addressing the court ruling that got us into this position. I supported both bills.
Also on Thursday, the Committee met for a hearing on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). “Pros and Cons of Restricting SNAP Purchases” gave the Committee a chance to review what SNAP recipients are purchasing with their SNAP dollars. Not allowing SNAP to be used for junk food would seem to make sense but it is very difficult to define junk food and going down this route could open a can of worms. I urged the Committee to remember just how complicated a program SNAP is and to keep an open mind moving forward.
I was a guest on AgriTalk Tuesday morning where host Mike Adams and I had a broad discussion on farm bill reauthorization, my plans to make tweaks to the current Dairy Margin Protection Program and other issue areas I would like to see addressed this year. You can listen to the program here.
Concordia College Receives near One Million Dollars in Science Grant
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced this week that Concordia College in Moorhead will receive a grant totaling $960,000.00 for their project entitled “FOCUS: Fostering Opportunities for Community, Understanding, and Success in STEM.” The abstract and other information regarding this award will soon be publicly available via the NSF Award Abstracts database at http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1643998 .
This Week in American History
On this day 202 years ago, the Treaty of Ghent was ratified by Congress, formally ending the War of 1812. The treaty dictates that the British must vacate posts located on United States soil, including those in present-day Minnesota, and returned to the United States approximately 10,000,000 acres of territory.
Spotted in the Seventh
Can YOU guess what was Spotted in the Seventh? Each week, the newsletter will feature a landmark or site somewhere in Western Minnesota. The first person to name the location wins! The location of the photo as well as the winner will be revealed in the next newsletter.
This week’s landmark was founded in 1960 to showcase Midwestern regional art and currently encompasses approximately 4,000 works.
Congratulations to Jason Kuerschner of Glencoe for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Caribou!
Share your guess on our website – http://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me/spotted-seventh
Marissa Marudas (FERGUS FALLS)