Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/3/2017


Western Minnesota

Dear Friends,

Spring is always a busy time out here in D.C., and I was happy to see so many Minnesotans in our nation’s capital this week. I met with the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Disabled American Veterans to discuss ways to better serve those who have served our country. I heard from the Minnesota Canola Council, the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Schwan Food Company, the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program, and Hormel on the next farm bill and how we can improve our rural economy. I also heard from community experts on improving our health care system, including the Minnesota Association of Orthodontists, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Tuberous Sclerosis Society, and the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Sincerely,
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Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

National Pheasant Summit


My twin granddaughters Astrid and Ingrid attend their first Pheasant Fest; addressing the crowd

I was honored to address participants at the National Pheasant Summit on the farm bill and agriculture conservation programs. I talked about some of the reforms I would like to see to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which would bring back a number of the previous program elements that were better for farmers and wildlife – like pheasants. As such, I would like to see the program expanded from 24 million acres back up to 40 million acres. But in order to do this, we will need to streamline the program, bring down some of the excessive rental rates which have disadvantaged young farmers, and get rid of some of the complex formulas that make it impossible for farmers in some areas to participate in the program.

Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association

Access to affordable and reliable electricity for rural Minnesota families and businesses can sometimes be taken for granted, but the folks at the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) work to make that happen. I met with members of MMUA to discuss municipal bonds, tax reform efforts in Washington, and distributed generation. Member utilities also provide unique opportunities for renewable energy investments, like the Capture the Sun community solar initiative I visited in Moorhead in October 2016.

Veterans Storm Congress

Members of the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) were in town to discuss how Congress can improve the VA, so that it can more efficiently and effectively serve veterans. VA is strained and feeling the effects of years of military operations. I am against privatizing veterans’ health care because it is an inherent government responsibility, but I support leveraging VA care with civilian practitioners on an as-needed basis or to help serve veterans who reside in rural America. There are no quick fixes and I am fully committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and the new Administration to deliver the highest quality integrated care.

MPPOA Fly-In


MPPOA President Jeff Stillwell

This week, I stopped by to visit with members of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association to discuss legislation and funding for our law enforcement officials and current trends facing rural America. I thank our law enforcement officers for their hard work and dedication to keeping Americans safe on a daily basis. I will continue to do my part to ensure they have the adequate funding and systems in place to effectively and safely perform their duties.

Minnesota Canola Council

I met with the Minnesota Canola Council on Tuesday to talk about the next farm bill and agriculture appropriations. We also had a good discussion about research priority areas for canola.

Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association

On Tuesday, I met with a group of leaders from the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. We discussed the outlook for trade negotiations and the process for writing the next farm bill. Sugar is an important economic driver in our district and I will continue to work to strengthen the industry.

Minnesota Farm Bureau


Dan Glessing (Vice President, Waverly), Kevin Paap (President, Vernon Center), Robert Roelofs (Garden City), Keith Allen (Kenyon), Marlin Fay (Grand Meadow), Mike Gunderson (Bejou), Carolyn Olson (Cottonwood); receiving my award from Kevin Paap

I met with the Minnesota Farm Bureau Board of Directors on Wednesday to talk about a number of issues related to agriculture. I was honored to receive the “Friend of Farm Bureau” award from Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap for my work in the 114th Congress.

Schwan Food Company

Alan Poff, Schwan’s Director of Government Affairs, visited my office to talk about the research and development required to produce their line of school meals. The Schwan Food Company was founded in 1952 when Marvin Schwan delivered his family’s ice cream to families around western Minnesota, starting what would become a successful home delivery business.

Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership

I enjoyed meeting with members of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) program on Tuesday. This group is comprised of 30 individuals who are included in agriculture efforts all across the state. They asked some good questions about how I am able to work with members who come from different areas of the country or have different views on policy from mine. I talked about how I was sent to Washington to represent my constituents in rural Minnesota, and it is good to keep in mind that other members were sent to Washington to represent their constituents as well. Understanding other Congressional districts and the issues that are important to them is a good step in developing a working relationship and finding areas where we can work together on behalf of our constituents.

Renville County Commissioner Bob Fox


Karen and Bob Fox, Renville County Commissioner

Minnesota counties play a critical role in delivering many of the services that make our communities a great place to live and work. Renville County Commissioner Bob Fox stopped by to discuss a range of issues including transportation and health care, as changes in federal policy in these areas can have a big impact on the finances of rural counties. I understand the importance of preserving local financing options for infrastructure projects and will continue to fight to keep the tools used by rural cities and counties available as tax reform is debated in Congress.

Joining Commissioner Fox in the meeting was his wife, Karen Fox. This spring Karen will retire from her job at Cedar Mountain Elementary School in Franklin after teaching 2nd graders for more than 30 years. Amazingly, she taught in the very same classroom every year!

Water/Ways Exhibit Opening Ceremony


Becky Mitchell, Museum Director

The Smithsonian’s traveling Water/Ways exhibit opened this past weekend at the Becker County Historical Society & Museum in Detroit Lakes. One of six designated viewing locations, the exhibit will explore the local meaning of water within our identity, history, and culture. Displayed along with its companion piece, We Are Water, this exhibit seeks to highlight the importance of water to life. The We Are Water Partnership is a collaboration of the Minnesota Humanities Center, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Health. As a strong supporter of the arts, I am happy to see such a powerful installment in my hometown. You can read about the ceremony and my remarks in the DL-Online here.

Minnesota Department of Human Services

Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Emily Piper visited my office this week to discuss the Department’s work on behalf of Minnesota’s seniors, children, and disabled individuals. I appreciate Commissioner Piper’s perspective as I work to ensure Minnesota’s most vulnerable residents have the resources they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Minnesota Association of Orthodontists

Members of the Minnesota Association of Orthodontists (MAO) visited Washington this week to outline their legislative priorities in the new Congress. MAO is recognized as a component of the American Association of Orthodontists, which is the largest and oldest dental specialty organization in the world. I appreciate the Association’s perspective as Congress works to improve access to quality dental care in Minnesota and across the nation.

Twin Cities & Western Railroad


Mark Wegner, President; Victor Meyers, Vice President of Operations

Representatives of Twin Cities & Western Railroad (TC&W) met with my staff this week to discuss Positive Train Control (PTC). Railroad carriers and providers need flexibility when implementing new safety measures to ensure that service to our local, state, and national markets is not interrupted. I look forward to working with TC&W in the new Congress to ensure that rail operations in the 7th District continue to be safe and effective.

Hmong American Farmers Association


Rebekah Solem, Yao Yang, Gabrielle Robinson-Bajuscik, Janssen Hang, Kub Vang, Pakou Hang, Tong Thao, and Kellie Adesina

My staff aides Rebekah Solem and Kellie Adesina met with the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) on Friday to talk about issues important to Hmong farmers. Minnesota is home to the second largest population of Hmong in America. HAFA appreciated my support of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and discussed with my staff other ways to support Hmong farmers in getting access to risk management tools for specialty crops. They also listed funding for local foods and access to land and credit as priority areas.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation


Trudy Halla (Minneapolis); Shelly Page (Edina)

Minnesota advocates for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) visited my office this week to discuss the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). This program supports research to prevent and treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and provides grants for Tribal and Native American diabetic services. As diabetes becomes increasingly common in Minnesota, JDRF is instrumental in providing the residents of the 7th District with the resources they need to stay healthy.

Minnesota Credit Unions

This week, a member of my staff met with representatives of Minnesota’s Credit Unions to discuss the state of financial services in rural Minnesota. They discussed legislation that would impact their businesses and working around some of the impediments to smaller financial institutions created under Dodd-Frank. I will continue to work toward providing the regulatory relief to our Credit Unions so they can continue to provide services and financing to our rural communities.

National Association for the Education of Young Children


Karen DeVos (ADA)

Karen DeVos was in Washington this week to participate in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Public Policy Forum. I appreciate the efforts of NAEYC to promote high-quality early education as both a profession and resource for young children.

Tuberous Sclerosis Society

Kari Ihle and her son William visited my office from this week to discuss funding for research to treat and find a cure for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). As a member of the Congressional Rare Disease Caucus, I will work to ensure that Congress provides the resources necessary to combat this disease and educate the public about its effects.   

Minnesota State Academies

Alumni of the Minnesota State Academies (MSA) met with my staff this week to share their perspective on the education of Minnesota’s blind and deaf students. First established in 1858, MSA has helped generations of blind, deaf, and disabled students build independent futures. I look forward to working with MSA to ensure that Minnesota’s blind and deaf communities continue to have academic, social, and professional opportunities in the future.

Railroad Day on Capitol Hill

Representatives of the freight rail industry visited my office this week to express their support for balanced safety regulations and the extension of the short-line tax credit. Hundreds of rail cars pass through the 7th District every day, and I will continue to pursue federal policy that helps them connect Minnesota businesses and passengers to national markets.

Hormel


Jeffrey A. Grev, Rebekah Solem, Andrew Harker

Representatives of Hormel Foods stopped by my office to visit with my staff aide Rebekah Solem. They talked about a number of important food and agriculture issues. Hormel has a large presence in Minnesota with close to 9,000 employees. Perhaps most well-known in the 7th District is the Jennie-O Turkey Store, with locations in Willmar, Montevideo, and Pelican Rapids.

Redwood Chamber Good Samaritan Event

My staff assistant Meg Louwagie attended a Redwood Chamber hit topics event at the Good Samaritan for an update on the improvements to their facility as well as information on their scholarship program for students that work for Good Samaritan.

Southwest Area Transportation Partnership

My staff attended the southwest Area Transportation Partnership (ATP 8) meeting in Redwood Falls on Friday to learn about new district transportation projects and listen to project updates discussed by the ATP board. The board is made up of elected officials, MNDOT staff and community leaders.

Enterprise Minnesota

Enterprise Minnesota helps manufacturers across my district improve productivity and profits, while advocating for the industry on the state and federal level. This week, Jacki Anderson and Allison Myhre from my staff sat down with CEO & President Bob Kill and Marketing & Legislative Relations Director Lynn Shelton to learn more about the latest success stories and challenges in the manufacturing industry.

Minnesota Office of Broadband Development

Congressional District

Broadband Households

Total Households

Percent Broadband (25Mbps/3Mbps) - WIRELINE only

1- Tim Walz

210,741

261,011

80.74

2 - Jason Lewis

232,353

247,157

94.01

3 - Erik Paulsen

256,102

260,521

98.30

4 - Betty McCollum

258,445

259,721

99.51

5 - Keith Ellison

280,578

282,621

99.28

6 - Tom Emmer

206,229

237,984

86.66

7 - Collin Peterson

186,406

267,942

69.57

8 - Rick Nolan

195,928

270,034

72.56

On Tuesday, members of my staff met with Danna MacKenzie and Diane Wells from the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development to hear more about the work being done in Minnesota to provide connectivity to businesses and homes across Minnesota. One of my priorities in Congress is to find ways to better provide quality, affordable internet service to those who have no service or inadequate service. My hope is to find ways to improve the Universal Service Fund and improve and expand service in rural areas. https://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/

Legislative Update

Agri-Pulse Open Mic

I was a guest on this week’s Agri-Pulse Open Mic. The interview covered a wide range of topics, mostly focused on the outlook for the 2018 Farm Bill. Trade, immigration and tax reform were also discussed. You can listen to the interview here: https://www.agri-pulse.com/media/podcasts/85-open-mic-interview/play/8158-collin-peterson-ranking-member-house-ag-committee

Agriculture Committee Update

It was another active week on the House Agriculture Committee. On Tuesday morning the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing to review conservation policy in the next farm bill. At the hearing I again expressed my intent to take a good look at the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and simplify reform and increase program acres. By and large I think the current farm bill conservation programs are working and I am confident that, if we can address some of the budget challenges that could come up, the next farm bill will again include a strong conservation title.

That afternoon the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture met to review international market development in the next farm bill. The trade promotion and market development programs are successful, proven, public-private partnerships and are vital to helping U.S. agriculture expand foreign markets via overseas marketing and promotional activities aimed at consumers and foreign end users alike.

And on Wednesday morning the full Committee met to consider the fiscal year 2018 Budget Views and Estimates letter for programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction. CBO now estimates that the current farm bill will save $104 billion, nearly four times what we originally pledged. I would argue that Agriculture has gone above and beyond when it comes to deficit reduction. I will oppose any attempts to further reduce farm bill spending. The views and estimates letter was collaboration between the Majority and Minority and I look forward to continuing this collaboration as we begin writing the 2018 Farm Bill.

Consumer Fuel Retailer Choice Act

Yesterday I joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. The legislation lifts the summertime ban on E15 gasoline, allowing the renewable fuel to be sold year-round.

The bill would grant a one-pound per square inch ethanol waiver for applicable Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) limitations for fuel blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol between June 1 and September 15. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently prohibits E15 fuel sales in non-flex fuel vehicles during the summer months when most driving occurs due to fuel volatility limits. You can read my full press release here.

Outlying Area Reporting Stations Letter

Last Friday I sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan asking the agency to bring its attention to the outdated border inspection technology at the Minnesota – Canada border. Rep. Rick Nolan and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken also signed the letter in support. You can click here for the full press release.

Visitors staying in Minnesota lodges near the Canadian border often travel to Manitoba or Ontario provinces for fishing and other outdoor-activity day trips. When travelers return to the United States after having crossed into Canada, they must report at a U.S. port of entry or check in at the nearest OARS phone, often a 16-mile round trip commitment. The current system is antiquated, and in the winter it can be dangerous. I am asking U.S. Customs and Border Protection to work with us in finding new ways that travelers can more safely identify themselves.

Newsstand

WOTUS Executive Order

I applaud the Administration for taking actions to stop the Waters of the U.S. rule which would further burden farmers, ranchers and rural businesses. Today’s announcement is the first step needed to bring much needed relief and I will continue to support efforts in Congress to provide certainty for agriculture producers. You can read the full press release on my website here.

President Trump’s State of the Union Address

I was glad to hear the President talk about the need for investments in infrastructure and supporting American made products and businesses, which are two areas where we can work together on a bipartisan basis to strengthen our economy. Although there are a lot of questions about the direction the Administration will take on issues important to rural America, I will work with the President wherever possible, as I have done with previous administrations of both parties, on behalf of the constituents of the 7th Congressional District. You can read the full press release on my website here.

Minnesota Ranked 3rd-Best State in U.S.

According to a U.S. News and World Report released this week, Minnesota is ranked as the 3rd-best state in the nation, thanks to strong economic opportunities, great educators, and quality health care. Moreover, the study ranks Minnesota as the best state in the Midwest region, compared to North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri, beating the average of all states in every category scored. You can read more here.

This Week in American History

Today, 168 years ago, the Minnesota Territory was signed into existence by President Polk. At the time, the territory included land as far as present-day North and South Dakota.

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 a depiction of its hometown’s namesakes. This town was founded in 1855. Here’s a hint: this family was highlighted in our newsletter last year.

Congratulations to Doug Folkens of Hector for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the Salt Lake near Marietta in Lac Qui Parle County!

Share your guess on our website – http://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me/spotted-seventh


“Stay Classy”
Rebekah Nelson (PRINSBURG)