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Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/24/2017
This week, over a thousand people from across the 7th Congressional District called and sent letters to my office about the healthcare bill. The vast majority were opposed to the bill, some because it would make changes to the Affordable Care Act, and some because the changes didn’t go far enough. I believe that the bill ultimately failed because it was trying to solve a political problem, and not designed with the purpose of improving care or helping people afford premiums and deductibles that are too expensive. I am hopeful that today’s vote was a learning experience, and that more pragmatic and transparent solutions can be looked at in earnest. The only way we will create a lasting and stable healthcare system for people in the middleclass will be if there is a bipartisan consensus. I will continue to meet with constituents and healthcare providers from across the district about the changes we need to make to improve healthcare for rural Minnesota.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award
I was honored to receive the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award this week in recognition of my support for pro-growth policies to help strengthen our economy. In addition to my work in Washington, I am also proud to be a member of a number of local Chambers of Commerce in the district, and will continue to work with them to help provide ways for communities to grow. The Chamber’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award is given annually to members of Congress based on their votes on critical business legislation as outlined in the Chamber’s annual scorecard, How They Voted. Members who supported the Chamber’s position on at least 70 percent of those votes qualify to receive the award.
St. Cloud VA Medical Center Director
Stephen D. Black, Director
Stephen Black, the new Director at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center, visited Washington to introduce himself to Minnesota legislators. The medical center delivers care to more than 36,000 central Minnesota patients, many of whom live in my district. I understand firsthand how this state-of-the-art clinic provides essential medical services for our veterans. I am looking forward to working with Director Black as the St. Cloud VA Medical Center transitions towards new leadership.
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group
Mr. Phil McColeman, Mr. Wayne Easter, Ms. Yvonne Jones, and Senator Yuen Pau Woo
Four Members of the Parliament of Canada visited with me on Tuesday as a delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Group, which brings lawmakers from Canada and the United States together to find convergence in respective national policies. The meeting focused on possible North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, dairy policy, and other trade issues. Canada is an essential trading and national security partner with the United States, so I will continue to find ways to strengthen the relationship with our friends to the north.
American Coalition for Ethanol
Richard Syverson, David Strand, and Jan Lundebrek
Three representatives from the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company visited my office to advocate for a strong renewable fuels national strategy. Their ethanol plant located in Benson purchases corn from local farmers and provides good paying jobs. As co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, I will continue to share the Chippewa Valley Ethanol story with my colleagues as an example of how ethanol production benefits local communities.
I met with Allison O’Toole, CEO of MNsure, to discuss healthcare in Minnesota. As Congress considers reforms to the country’s healthcare system, I will work with MNsure to help make Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace more accessible and affordable for individuals, families, and small businesses.
Students from the 7th
Each year, the Close-Up Foundation helps high schools facilitate educational visits to Washington, D.C. This week, I was happy to welcome students from Kelliher Public School and Greenbush-Middle River High School to Capitol Hill for an insightful discussion about government and their studies. I always enjoy meeting students from the 7th District, and wish the group the best of luck with their education.
Minnesota Business Aviation Association
I met with representatives of the Minnesota Business Aviation Association this week to discuss general and corporate aviation in greater Minnesota. As a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, I understand that access to aviation and efficient transportation options is important for keeping high quality jobs in rural communities.
This week, I met with a delegation of LeadingAge Minnesota members to discuss senior care. LeadingAge is the largest association of organizations helping to improve home care, independent senior housing, assisted living communities, and skilled nursing facilities for Minnesota’s seniors.
Minnesota Bankers Association
This week I met with representatives of the Minnesota Bankers Association. We are working to ensure banking regulations targeted at large banks and speculators does not impact smaller regional banks in rural America. Their ability to work without a burdensome regulatory environment is key to ensuring liquidity in markets in rural America, so American citizens can get the financing they need.
Ag Country Farm Credit Services
Mark Ellison, Elbow Lake and Mark Knisely, CEO, United FCS
I met with Mark Knisely of United FCS and Mark Ellison of Ag Country to discuss the state of farm lending in rural Minnesota and how we can continue to assist farmers in the in our current agriculture economy. I appreciate the dedication of Farm Credit Services in providing lines of credit to farmers in rural America so we can continue to maintain the agricultural sector of our economy.
Specialty Crop Alliance
I recently met with Specialty Crop Alliance members to discuss the upcoming farm bill. I discussed immigration, pest and disease mitigation, research, and other sector issues with Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers Association, Mike Stuart, President of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, John Keeling, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Potato Council, Tom Stenzel, President of United Fresh as well as association staff, Robert Guenther, Dennis Nuxoll, Kam Quarles and Karen Williams.
International Dairy Foods Association
I met with the new CEO and President of the International Dairy Foods Association this week in preparation for the dairy hearing we had in the Agriculture Committee this week. The purpose of the hearing was to address changes needed in the next farm bill as it relates to dairy. Dairy needs some fixing and it was helpful to have both NMPF and IDFA sitting at the same table and supporting each other. We will continue to look for budget responsible ways to create an improved dairy safetynet.
Minnesota Regional Development Commissions
Working to expand critical infrastructure in rural areas takes a considerable amount of time, expertise and effort. The Minnesota Regional Development Commissions play an important role in providing the technical assistance needed to help small local governments work together to efficiently provide the services rural Minnesota needs to thrive. One of the key rural development issues that the Commissions are working on is finding ways to expand broadband to un-served areas. I will continue to work to provide the federal support needed to ensure that people living in rural areas have access to high speed broadband services.
Minnesota Soybean Growers Association
On Wednesday, a group of Minnesota soybean growers, along with some of their national affiliates, visited my office. We discussed the challenges facing the next farm bill and trade concerns with the new administration. I look forward to working with the soybean growers and other commodity groups as we work to solve these issues.
American Cotton Shippers Association
Representatives from the American Cotton Shippers Association came by the office on Tuesday. We talked about the need for renewed cotton policies in the farm bill and reasonable position limits at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
GEA visited the office this week to discuss challenges in dealing with regulation on their Automated Milking Systems. GEA makes robotic milkers and spoke to me about easing regulations to allow innovation in the area. I agreed to help raise the issue with the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA oversees the pasteurized milk ordinance that regulates milk products to ensure the health and safety of milk.
National Agriculture Day Visit
McKenzie Barth (Upsala), Wendy Bauman (Raymond), Madison Schafer (Goodhue), Thomas Salentiny (Fulda), Rebekah Solem
Students representing Agriculture Future of American (AFA) and Minnesota FFA stopped by my office on National Ag Day to share their positive experiences with agriculture and the importance of ag education. These young ag leaders weighed in on the next farm bill, stated their views that SNAP and production ag need to stay together in the farm bill and noted the importance of ag research. It is great hearing from young people who are so passionate about agriculture. I thank them for their involvement and wish them the best as they pursue their studies and futures in agriculture.
National Wheat Improvement Committee
Rebekah Solem, David Milligan, Jochum Wiersma, Bob Zemetra, Kellie Adesina, and Jianli Chen
Representatives of the National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) met with my agriculture staff aides Kellie Adesina and Rebekah Solem to share their priorities for the appropriations process and the next farm bill. During the meeting, NWIC emphasized the importance of ag research and its impact on wheat. Specifically, they discussed funding for Extension and land-grant institutions as well as initiatives aimed at addressing devastating diseases that can affect wheat, such as scab. The group also thanked me for my past support and leadership in ag research.
The Arc Minnesota
Volunteers from the Arc Minnesota visited my office this week on behalf of developmentally disabled residents of the 7th District and their families. As a member of the Congressional Autism Caucus, I will work to support the Arc’s mission to provide the resources that disabled Minnesotans need to lead healthy and productive lives.
Federal TRIO Programs
This week a group of advocates as well as current and former students of TRIO stopped by to discuss continued support for the program. TRIO includes a number of programs designated to assist non-traditional and first-generation students obtain higher education. I have supported these programs in the past, and will continue to do so. TRIO has proved its success over the years, and is exactly the type of program the government should continue to maintain.
Lisa Gall and Jennifer Lundblad
Representatives of Stratis Health met with my staff this week to share information about their work to strengthen healthcare in rural areas. Stratis Health is an independent nonprofit organization that works with 23 rural communities in Minnesota to address health disparities and provide technical assistance to providers. I appreciate the progress they have made in connecting rural patients to quality services.
Minnesota State College Student Association
Students from the Minnesota State College Student Association visited my office this week to advocate for accessible and quality higher education. The work these students do to educate the public about higher education and leadership development will help shape the next generation of scholars in greater Minnesota.
Agri-Pulse Farm Bill Summit
On Monday, I addressed the Agri-Pulse Farm Bill Summit at the National Press Club. I provided an overview of my priorities for the next farm bill, including changes to the current dairy program and increasing CRP acreage. The summit was an all-day event focused on the future of food and farm policy. Attendees heard panel discussions and remarks from other Agriculture Committee leadership. You can watch my address online here: https://www.agri-pulse.com/media/videos/play/378
McLeod Solid Waste Facility
On Thursday my staff along with Senator Franken’s staff toured the McLeod Solid Waste Facility in Hutchinson with Coordinator Sarah Young. This is one of the only facilities in Minnesota that is processing agricultural plastics in addition to the many programs that they operate including the intake of hazardous materials, coordinating the recycling effort of infant and toddler car seats, and many more.
This past weekend, my staff attended a childcare shortage meeting in Fergus Falls. The Ottertail County Government Center conference room was full with interested individuals and organizations. The meeting was billed as “Child Care: A Key Piece in the Rural Economic Development Puzzle.” Along with data showing the real shortage of child care availability, like 2 to 3 year waiting lists or up to 100 other children waiting ahead of you, there were presentations on financing child care centers and different models that have worked in other areas.
Red River Working Groups
The 19th Joint Annual Conference of the Red River Watershed Management Board and the Red River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Work Group met in Moorhead March 22-23. Several informative presentations were part of the program such as the "Drainage Seminar”, "Benefit Cost Analysis" and the "Watershed District Updates”. I appreciate the important work these organizations continue to provide.
Agriculture Committee Update
The Agriculture Committee this week continued our review of farm bill programs. On Tuesday morning the Subcommittee on Nutrition held a hearing to review nutrition distribution programs. Learning more about programs like the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and Food Distribution on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), how they are administered and how they interact with other farm bill nutrition programs will help us as we begin writing the new farm bill. Some of the reservations in particular, like White Earth and Red Lake Band, are doing an especially good job of using these programs to meet the needs of their residents.
On Tuesday afternoon the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Affairs heard from the livestock industry, including Carl Wittenberg representing the National Turkey Federation. Carl and his wife Sharlene raise 100,000 turkeys annually at their North Dakota farm which are then processed in Thief River Falls. While there isn’t a formal livestock title in the farm bill, livestock producers are impacted by many of the bill’s provisions.
The full Agriculture Committee met on Wednesday morning to examine dairy policy. The current Margin Protection Program is an improvement over the previous dairy safety net but sign up has been poor and there are real concerns about its effectiveness. Changes need to be made in order to provide meaningful risk management for the dairy industry. However, Congressional Budget Office is making our job pretty difficult right now. At the hearing, I expressed my concerns about finding a solution that can operate within the budget confines that we have to work with.
Did you know video from all of the Agriculture Committee’s hearings can be found online? Click here if you want to watch this week’s events.
Library of Congress Educational Outreach
The Library offers educators free access to millions of primary source documents in its collections including maps, photographs, historical documents and more. Their "Teachers Page" includes interactive student activities, webcasts and dozens of lesson plans based on the Library's collections on subjects ranging from history, literature, civics, science, and more. Lesson plans have been teacher-tested and are based on current teaching standards. In addition, the Library's professional development curriculum and several self-serve interactive modules can be accessed online by teachers to assist them with their continuing education requirements. Teachers, you can access these materials and learn more by visiting their website: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/
This Week in American History
The twenty-sixth amendment in the National Archives
On March 23, 1971 Minnesota was among the first states to ratify the twenty-sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives U.S. citizens eighteen years of age or older the right to vote in local, state, and national elections. In fact, Minnesota claims to be the initial actor on this important issue. Ratification by the necessary number of states would be completed later in the year.
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 is 17-acre farmstead complete with a timber-frame barn, grist mill, and hand-cut granite monuments built in the 1880’s. This location joined the National Historic Register in 1972, and was the set of the Hollywood film “Sweet Land” in 2004.
Congratulations to Dean Anderson of Fosston for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the Beltrami Island State Forest in Lake of the Woods, Roseau, and Beltrami counties!
Share your guess on our website – http://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me/spotted-seventh
Visitors from the Seventh
Dustin and Vanessa Hoffmann (MORGAN)
Chris Long and his daughter (COTTONWOOD)
Kirsten VanDerPol (KERKHOVEN)