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Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 2/26/2016
The Agriculture Committee welcomed testimony from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week as its annual review of the state of the rural economy begins. I appreciated listening to the Secretary’s perspective on the Conservation Reserve Program and thanked him for the Department’s response to last summer’s outbreak of avian influenza. I met with sugarbeet and potato farmers to discuss GMO labeling and joined county commissioners from across the 7th district to review plans to improve housing, transportation, and broadband service in rural communities. Finally, I was happy to see the House pass the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015, which included a bipartisan amendment I co-sponsored to return management of the gray wolf population to Minnesota.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
This week I met with members of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, many of which are based in the 7th district. They presented me with a plaque recognizing my support of the Small Mutual Inflation Update, and we had a lengthy discussion on policy changes affecting insurers across the country. From disaster mitigation to the influx of drones and the insurance implications surrounding them, we are certainly facing a changing landscape, and it is reassuring this industry is taking these changes into account so we may be protected from whatever lies ahead. I appreciate the work these Minnesota companies do to meet the insurance needs of rural Americans.
Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association
Front Row: Tim Deal, Dennis Klosterman, David Schwerin Back Row: David Thompson, Dan Younggren, Duane Maatz
Representatives from the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association visited my office on Thursday to talk about the challenges currently facing beet growers, including GMO labeling. Last year the House passed legislation to create a voluntary, nationwide, USDA-administered certification program for labeling genetically engineered food products, and the Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to consider legislation next week.
Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
Brian Vculek (Crete, ND), Greg Campell (Grafton, ND), Justin Dagen (KARLSTAD), Jared Erickson (Grand Forks, ND), Chuck Gunnerson (EAST GRAND FORKS), Thomas (TJ) Hall (Edinburg, ND)
On Wednesday, I sat down with potato growers from Minnesota and North Dakota to discuss issues important to the potato industry, including EPA pesticide policies, GMO labeling, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership and my support for potato research grants. The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association first formed back in 1946 to unite growers along the Red River and focus on potato research and promotion.
MN Farm Bureau
Mark Maiers (STEWART), Fran Miron (Hugo), Bob Roelofs (Garden City), Mike Gunderson (BEJOU), Dan Glessing (Waverly), Marlin Fay (Grand Meadow), Carolyn Olson (COTTONWOOD), Nathan Collins (MURDOCK), Kevin Paap (President, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Garden City)
The Minnesota Farm Bureau Board of Directors was in Washington this week and visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to advocate for American agriculture. They talked about issues important to Minnesota agriculture, such as crop insurance, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, GMO labeling, and conservation programs. It is always great to see this group, and I appreciate the good job they do educating Members of Congress and congressional staff about the impact that decisions in Washington have on the ground in Minnesota.
Association of Minnesota Counties
Joe Nagel (Commissioner, McLeod County), Bob Fox (Commissioner, Renville County), Jack Swanson (Commissioner, Roseau County / 2016 President, Association of MN Counties)
County Commissioners are on the front lines of many of the most pressing issues facing communities in the 7th District, ranging from housing shortages to finding workers with the skills needed to fill the many available well-paying jobs. I look forward to continuing to work with the County Commissioners on these issues as well as expanding broadband service across the state and using the recently passed Transportation bill to increase the freight options in Minnesota.
Minnesota Biofuels Association
Timothy Rudnicki (Executive Director, MN Biofuels Association)
Minnesota is number one in the nation when it comes to promoting and utilizing biofuels. I met with Minnesota Biofuels Association Executive Director Timothy Rudnicki to discuss how Minnesota is progressing in bringing more choices to the pump. I am pleased to report that there are nearly 100 fuel retailers throughout Minnesota that provide access to higher ethanol blends. Through public education and Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership grants, Minnesota will continue to lead the nation in biofuels.
Native American Youth Leaders
Vanessa and Winona Goodthunder (MORTON)
On Wednesday, I had the chance to meet with Vanessa Goodthunder and her younger sister Winona. Vanessa was selected by the Center for Native Americans as one of five Champions for Change Youth Leaders. Vanessa was the only Minnesotan selected and traveled to Washington to meet with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs John Barrasso, and me. I commend Vanessa on all her accomplishments and for continuing to share her story to inspire Native youth in Minnesota.
National Milk Producers Federation
I met with the National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mullhern today. We discussed the farm bill’s Dairy Margin Protection program, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and conservation practices. I continue to remain committed to being responsive to the changing marketplace dynamics impacting the dairy industry.
USA Rice Federation
On Wednesday, a group from the USA Rice Federation came to the Agriculture Committee where Chairman Conaway and I provided an update on Committee activities. We had a good discussion about the progress we’ve made on protecting the farm safety net, monitoring regulatory burdens, and preparing for the rest of the year.
Kelliher Public School
Tim Lutz, Karyn Lutz, Bertrand Weber
Constituents representing Kelliher Public School visited my Washington office to talk about the great strides they have made with respect to school meals. Tim Lutz, Superintendent of Kelliher Public School, and Karyn Lutz, a registered dietician for Northwest Service Cooperative, were joined by Bertrand Weber, the Food Service Director at Minneapolis Public Schools, to talk about the importance of good nutrition for children and efforts undertaken by schools in Minnesota. Kelliher School has received a lot of good publicity, as well as honors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for their efforts. The school was also a recipient of a USDA grant that allowed them to purchase combination ovens to replace their 40-year-old ovens. The new ovens let the cooks prepare food more easily and in a variety of ways. It is good to hear their success story.
Minnesota Credit Unions
This week, Richard Lee, a member of my staff, met with members of Minnesota Credit Unions across the state. Credit Union members highlighted the need for regulatory relief for credit unions and small community banks which were caught up in Dodd-Frank reforms, and discussed the good work they do across rural Minnesota to provide credit and general depository services. I commend the work they do on behalf of Minnesotans and look forward to continuing to work together to enact policies that free up credit and lessen burdensome regulations for rural America.
Minnesota Department of Transportation
Sergius Phillips (Federal Relations, MnDOT), Susan Mulvihill (Deputy Commissioner, MnDOT), Cassandra Isackson (Director, MnDOT Office of Aeronautics), Scott R. Peterson (Director, MnDOT Government Affairs)
Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) visited my office this week to express the Department’s support for a comprehensive, multi-year FAA reauthorization bill. State officials and rural townships depend on stable, long-term funding when planning transportation and infrastructure projects, and Congress should work to finish this bill before the summer construction season. Producers and businesses in the 7th District depend on quality air services to regional, national, and global markets, and I will work to ensure that federal aviation programs like Essential Air Service continue to serve America’s rural communities.
Minnesota Air National Guard
General Sandra L. Best
On Thursday, staff aide Allison Myhre attended the promotion ceremony of Brigadier General Sandra L. Best. General Best has recently served as the Chief of Staff and Director of Government Relations for the Minnesota Air National Guard and has been my point of contact with the Minnesota National Guard. Over the years my staff and I have witnessed her strong leadership and communications skills and have enjoyed working with her on a number of issues. I congratulate General Best on a well-deserved promotion. She is a great role model and leader for the men and women who serve us in the National Guard.
In Memory of Officer Jason Moszer
Officer Jason Moszer
On February 10th, Fargo, ND Police Officer Jason Moszer was shot while responding to a domestic violence call. He passed away the following day. Jason was the first Fargo police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1882.
Officer Moszer was a resident of Sabin, Minnesota, within the 7th Congressional District, and one of my constituents. His death is a somber reminder of the risks police officers face every day to protect the citizens of the United States. His funeral service, which included over 2,800 law enforcement officers, highlights just how strong the brotherhood within the law enforcement community is. The loss of a brother, and officer, a public servant is never an easy one to swallow. The outpouring of love and support over the loss of Officer Moszer shows just that.
In times like these, we must remember the risks law enforcement officers face every day. We must do everything in our power to provide them with the tools and means to safely do their jobs- those jobs whose sole purpose is protecting the rest of society.
Finally, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Jason’s wife, Rachel, his stepchildren Dillan and Jolee, and his parents, Dave and Karen. Please know that your son died protecting the rest of us, and we will always be grateful for his dutiful service to the people of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Hearing on Rural Economy
Wednesday, the Agriculture Committee welcomed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to the Committee for a hearing on the state of the rural economy. The Committee takes on this review annually, and for the past few years we’ve been able to point to strong farm prices as one of the reasons for the rural economy’s success. While the rural economy remains strong, folks are getting concerned about the potential long-term impacts of deteriorating prices. Of course, this is why those of us on the Agriculture Committee work so hard to pass a farm bill every five years.
During the hearing I asked the Secretary for an update on CRP signup and thanked him for the department’s response to the avian influenza outbreak in Minnesota last spring.
Swap Data Hearing
On Thursday, the Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit held a hearing to review the G-20 Swap Data Reporting Goals. Dodd-Frank reformed what had been an unregulated swaps market, including the requirement that swaps trades be reported. This reporting hasn’t been as robust as originally planned; the data has been inconsistently reported and sometimes under-reported. Fortunately, all sides are in agreement that this needs to be addressed, and I am encouraged that the CFTC has taken the first step toward standardizing and harmonizing swaps data reporting.
House Passes Sportsmen’s Bill
The House this week passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015 (H.R. 2406). The hunting and fishing legislation includes an amendment I sponsored to return management of the gray wolf population to Minnesota. Despite overwhelming evidence that the gray wolf population has thrived in the past few years, a single judge decided gray wolves need federal protection. This puts Minnesota farmers and ranchers in the position of having to choose whether to follow the law or protect their livelihoods. The bill also includes provisions protecting lead ammunition and tackle from EPA regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act, increasing funding for public target ranges, and insuring federal officials facilitate hunting and fishing on federal public lands.
National FFA Week
FFA chapters across the country celebrated National FFA Week this week. This tradition, beginning in 1947, is an opportunity for FFA members, alumni, and sponsors to advocate for agricultural education. A variety of events take place during FFA Week, including service projects and the “Agriculture Olympics,” which allow chapters to better connect with local, state, and national audiences.
Discovering the 7th
The Jeffers Petroglyphs historic site contains more than 4,000 American Indian images preserved in the bedrock of the Sioux Quartzite in Cottonwood County. This 2,500 foot sloping rock surface, exposed near the crest of Red Rock Ridge, spans 23 miles and contains images of humans, animals, tools, and unidentifiable shapes. While the exact age of the petroglyphs is not known, the earliest petroglyphs are estimated to be from 9,000 to 7,000 years ago.
This Week in American History
Henry Mower Rice / Minnesota Territory (1849-1851)
Congressional territorial delegate Henry Mower Rice lobbied for the bill to establish Minnesota Territory in 1849 and later served as its delegate to the 33rd and 34th Congresses from 1853 to 1857. His work on the Minnesota Enabling Act, passed by Congress on February 26, 1857, facilitated Minnesota's statehood. The act defined the state’s boundaries and called for a constitutional convention to draft a constitution for state government. Between July 13 and August 29 of the same year, the Minnesota Constitutional Convention produced a constitution that was ratified by Governor Alexander Ramsey in December. Since 1916, his statue has stood in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building as a remembrance of his work in making Minnesota a state.
Henry Mower Rice
National Statuary Hall