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Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 2/5/2016
2016 Winter Carnival
Crop insurance is one of the primary risk management tools available to help provide security to producers and stability within the rural economy. I met with barley, wheat, and sorghum producers this week to discuss my efforts to protect crop insurance and implement federal safety net programs as intended by the Farm Bill. I also signed onto a letter in support of full funding for a rural water project that will help deliver reliable, quality drinking water to communities in the district. Finally, I congratulated Farm Credit and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture for a century of support to rural communities, agricultural producers, and agribusinesses.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
This week, I addressed the 2016 National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Policy Conference in Washington, DC. NASDA, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is comprised of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I spoke about the outlook for future farm bills, EPA regulations, and labeling of food derived from genetic engineering.
I met with Minnesota members of Farm Credit this week to thank them for a century of helping to fund America’s food and fuel production. Farm Credit loans, leases, and financial services help farmers, ranchers, and small businesses thrive in rural communities.
Minnesota/North Dakota Barley Growers
Rob Rynning (KENNEDY), Christopher Engelstad (FERTILE), Pete Friederichs (FOXHOME) / North Dakota Barley Growers
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Barley Growers visited me in my Washington office, bringing along with them a large group of growers from North Dakota and other barley-growing states. We discussed a number of issues of importance to the barley industry including crop insurance, trade, and the RFS. We also spent some time talking about how the farm safety net programs, ARC and PLC, are playing out across the U.S. Finally, they thanked me for my support of legislation that would lessen the tax burden on small breweries.
Minnesota Wheat Growers
Scott Swenson (ELBOW LAKE), Jay Nord (WOLVERTON), Kevin Leiser (FERTILE), Mark Jossund (MOORHEAD), Steve Lacey (WENDELL)
The Minnesota Wheat Growers were in Washington this week and stopped by my office to talk about a variety of issues, including GMO Labeling, trade, crop insurance, and the farm safety net programs. We also talked about the importance of funding research for the U.S Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative, of which I've been supportive.
National Sorghum Producers
On Wednesday, representatives from the National Sorghum Producers met with me to discuss the challenges they face across the southern Great Plains. Crop insurance, accurate yield reporting, and trade issues are all important to sorghum growers. Agriculture policy should serve all farmers, and it’s helpful to hear from farmers from around the country on how it is working for their departments.
Minnesota Aviation Trades Association
Gordon Hoff (Executive Director, Minnesota Business Aviation Association), Greg Reigel (President, MN Aviation Trades Association), Joe Hedrick (Airport Manager, Thief River Falls Regional Airport)
This week I met with members of the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association to talk about issues important to this community. One consistent message I hear time and time again is that people in the industry would like to see a long term FAA reauthorization before we get into the summer construction season. That is something I would like to see as well, but caution that ideological proposals to privatize our air traffic control system could delay this timeline. Access to aviation and efficient transportation options is important for keeping high quality jobs in rural communities, and I will continue to fight to protect this essential service.
Minnesota Rural Electric Association
Affordable electricity is a crucial pocketbook issue to families and farmers in rural Minnesota. On Tuesday, I sat down with members of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) to discuss how electric cooperatives can continue to produce cost-effective electricity in the face of new regulations on coal-fired power plants. I will continue to support our rural electric cooperatives and their efforts to generate power for households and businesses throughout Minnesota.
Heartland Girls’ Ranch
Les Heitke (CEO/Clinical Director, Heartland Girls’ Ranch)
On Thursday, I met with Les Heitke, CEO/Clinical Director of the Heartland Girls’ Ranch in Benson. The Heartland Girls’ Ranch functions as a residential group home and clinical facility for trafficked young women ages 12-21, offering comprehensive support services including housing, education, mental/physical health support, and equine therapy. According to its mission statement, the Ranch seeks to empower these girls to “experience success and write a new story for themselves.” We talked about possible funding opportunities for an expansion of the facilities in order to meet the demand for these services.
Local Business Leaders
James Robideaux (DETROIT LAKES), Jen Hoban (PERHAM) Bennie McWilliams (Waite Park), Brian Annis (Duluth) and Dan Baker (Ramsey)
I had the pleasure of meeting with small business owners from across the state this week to discuss how government regulations affect their businesses. Considering how many small businesses surround us in everyday life, it is impressive to think about the amount of time, commitment, and labor these hard working individuals contribute in starting their business and keeping them in business.
Minnesota Department of Health
Mark Schoenbaum (Office of Rural Health and Primary Care), Kelly Fluharty (Winona Health), and Laura Grangaard (Stratis Health, Bloomington)
A delegation from the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) met with my staff this week to detail ongoing efforts to protect, maintain, and improve federal rural health programs and the health of rural Minnesotans. NRHA, part of the Minnesota Department of Health’s Policy Division, partners with local public health agencies, tribal governments, and other providers to represent the unique healthcare needs of rural America.
Kandiyohi County Drug-Free Community Coalition
J. Pablo Obregon (Guia Program Coach) and Laura Daak (Grant Coordinator, Kandiyohi County DFC)
Representatives of the Kandiyohi Country Drug-Free Community (DFC) Coalition visited my office this week to share their perspective on substance abuse among the community’s youth. The coalition has had recent success in combating prescription drug abuse using the “Rx Drop-Box” for unused or unneeded medication, and in updating the local tobacco ordinance to include county beaches. I offer my sincere thanks to the coalition’s youth, parent, business, school, and law enforcement volunteers for serving as an example in keeping Minnesota’s communities safe and healthy.
My staff aide Zach Martin met with Steve Pincuspy, Minnesota Program Manager for PaintCare, to talk about an exciting new paint recycling program in Minnesota called PaintCare. This non-profit organization was created by the American Coatings Association to manage leftover paint products in households. Since the start of the Minnesota paint stewardship program in late 2014, PaintCare has set-up 228 drop-off sites throughout Minnesota where folks can go to take unwanted paint for recycling.
Lewis and Clark Regional Water System
I joined a bipartisan letter to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation this week, requesting the strongest possible funding for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System project. When complete, the project will help provide a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles with quality drinking water and increased opportunity for economic development.
Housing and Finance in America
This week, the House addressed numerous pieces of legislation pertaining to our financial services industry and housing needs. The House passed H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act, which helps improve the quality of Section 8 low-income housing, assists with financing of rural housing, combats veteran homelessness, and simplifies income calculations. I supported the measure as it moves us in the right direction in addressing the needs of our lowest income citizens and combats homelessness amongst those who protect our liberties. I also supported legislation to protect businesses’ access to banking services and to encourage employee ownership plans. We must continue to work towards a financial services sector which encourages economic growth and protects the needs of small businesses and everyday Americans.
Discovering the 7th
Winter Carnival Ice Palace 1887/2016
Minnesota’s Winter Carnival began in response to a New York reporter who described the state as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in winter.” Festivities including ice skating, bobsledding, snow sculpting, dogsled races, an extensive medallion hunt, and a torchlighting parade quickly cemented the Carnival as one of Minnesota’s favorite seasonal traditions. The Winter Carnival also features an ice palace, made entirely out of Minnesota lake water, to honor the “Royal Family” and their court.
This Week in American History
On February 3, 1959, rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, together with their pilot, were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. On that “day the music died,” the performers were scheduled to perform for an excited crowd in Moorhead as part of their Midwestern “Winter Dance Party” tour. Holly’s legacy and death have inspired generations of new songs, artists, and genres in American music.
Visitors from the District
Barley Growers (Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho, and Montana)
Charles Lindbergh (Little Falls), 1927
Born February 4, 1902