Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 11/18/2019
Students from Southwest Minnesota Christian High School in Edgerton visiting my office in Washington
In Washington, the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing on Safeguarding American Agriculture from Wild, Invasive, and Non-Native Species, and I met with Minnesota State Veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson to discuss the federal government’s role in managing outbreaks of animal diseases to protect growers. I also met with leaders from the National Cotton Council about the Market Facilitation Program and Cargill Managing Director Kathryn Unger about the promotion of domestic aquaculture production. The Aquaculture industry has the potential to be a big market for Minnesota grown soybeans. I received a pin from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn Johnson to commemorate Veteran’s Day. I led a bipartisan letter addressing the shortage of propane in the Midwest and introduced bipartisan legislation to address the health care worker shortage in rural community hospitals.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
Fish and Wildlife Meetings
Last week, I was pleased to have the Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in my district so she could hear firsthand about the damage caused when a federal agency fails to act responsibly and abuses their authority in the field. Fundamental changes are needed from the indecipherable easement maps to their enforcement tactics. To be a better partner the agency needs to be responsive to the many outstanding issues, I hope last week’s meeting was a first step. I look forward to a follow-up response from the Deputy Director on what we can expect moving forward.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson stated:
"I appreciated the opportunity to talk with landowners last week and learn about some of the challenges they face as farmers in Minnesota. The Service will continue to work with them to find an amicable solution."
Lac qui Parle County Commissioner Todd Pratzer released the following statement about the meeting:
"Many thanks to Congressman Peterson for bringing USFWS Director Everson to western Minnnesota to hear from local citizens and local elected officials about the concerns and challenges we face in doing business with the USFWS. As a County Commissioner in Lac qui Parle County I am appreciative of the opportunity to share our message with both the Congressman and the Director. It was very encouraging to see such strong support for rural MN from Rep. Peterson!!"
Big Stone County Commissioner Brent Olson released the following statement regarding the roundtable:
“As a county commissioner I greatly appreciated the efforts of Representative Peterson and his staff to bring Director Everson out to our country to help my colleagues and I make the point that we're not asking anyone to choose between ducks, clean water, and farmers. Solutions exist to make this a win for everyone. We just need cooperation between all the myriad agencies who need to be consulted before the real work can begin. In this time when the perils of climate change and the ongoing market challenges are a double whammy for farmers, we desperately need adults at the table breaking down institutional silos and encouraging innovation and cooperation."
The Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture heard from experts about the need to safeguard American agriculture from wild, invasive, and non-native species. The panel included researchers, growers, representatives of pest management companies, and Minnesota’s State Veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson. Members and witnesses discussed the strategies that have been used to combat past and present threats to agriculture like the avian flu and African swine fever. They also discussed the federal government’s role in managing feral swine, nutria, and other invasive species.
Following the hearing, I met with Minnesota’s State Veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson to talk about animal health in Minnesota and her work with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. The 7th District suffered an outbreak of avian flu in 2014 and 2015, which caused tremendous losses for our growers. Preventing future outbreaks of animal diseases is one of my top priorities and I appreciated the opportunity to talk with Dr. Thompson about what Congress can do to keep animals and Americans healthy.
National Cotton Council Chairman Mike Tate and President and CEO Gary Adams
I also met with leaders of the National Cotton Council last week to discuss the implementation process for the 2018 Farm Bill, the inequities in the Market Facilitation Program, and the prognosis for a few trade deals that are being negotiated.
Aquaculture on the Rise
I sat down with Kathryn Unger, Managing Director of Cargill’s Aqua Nutrition division, to discuss the promotion of domestic aquaculture production. The United States imports 90% of its seafood and I think there’s an opportunity for U.S. businesses to produce and process more seafood right at home. This would also provide a significant opportunity for soybean growers as soy is one of the main ingredients for aqua feed. I am continuing to look at aquaculture and ways to promote the industry in the United States.
Veterans’ Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn Johnson Pin Presentation
In honor of Veteran’s Day, VA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn Johnson presented me with a lapel pin. All Members of Congress and their staff who served received pins for their service. I served in the North Dakota National Guard, and am proud to represent veterans from western Minnesota.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
This week the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a full committee investigative hearing entitled, “Hijacking Our Heroes, Exploiting Veterans Through Disinformation on Social Media.” The committee heard from witnesses including Vietnam Veterans of America, Twitter, and Facebook on the topic of “internet spoofing” and how and why veterans are targeted in particular. Internet spoofing occurs when online profiles are stolen or faked to impersonate someone. Veterans seems to be at higher risk for reasons such as their strong credibility and high levels of political engagement. The committee also asked the panel questions about what they are doing to stop and prevent internet spoofing from occurring. It is important that action be taken to prevent veterans from having their identities stolen online.
Blue Ribbon Schools in Washington
FROM LEFT: Montevideo Middle School, Hancock Public School, and Lincoln Elementary
Three outstanding schools from the 7th District were honored in Washington, D.C. as National Blue Ribbon Schools. The National Blue Ribbon School program recognizes success in rigorous academic criteria, either as Exemplary High Performing or Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing schools. Congratulations again to Lincoln Elementary School, Montevideo Middle School, and Hancock Public School.
My staff aide Zach Martin sat down with representatives of Conservation Minnesota to discuss issues in the state including renewable energy sources, low-emission car standards, and biofuel production.
Citizen’s Climate Lobby
My staff aide Zach Martin sat down with activists from the Alexandria area to discuss climate change. I have always supported an all-the-above energy portfolio which includes wind, solar, natural gas, and coal generation plans, some of which are installing carbon capture and sequestration technology improvements in order to improve carbon dioxide emissions.
The Senior’s League
Doug Osborne, Legislative Liaison for the Seniors League, visited my office to advocate for Social Security and Medicare benefits for our seniors. I appreciate the work the Senior League are doing every day for our seniors who have spent their lives giving back to this county. I will continue working to make sure Medicare and Social Security remain strong for future generations.
Doosen Bobcat Ribbon Cutting
On Thursday, Doosen Bobcat had a ribbon cutting ceremony for the $26 million expansion at its manufacturing facility in Litchfield. Doosan Bobcat broke ground on the Litchfield expansion last month. The expansion will triple the size of the plant and add 200 jobs at that location. The company aims to wrap up the project by September 2020. At the plant, Doosan Bobcat builds attachments for its loaders, excavators, and tractors.
Enbridge Tour in NW Minnesota
Representatives from Enbridge toured Hallock, Thief River Falls, Crookston, Clearbrook and Bemidji this week to update the communities with the status of replacing Line 3 pipeline. Enbridge and the communities talked about the benefits of the replacement line, including the importance of the tax revenue for the county, city and schools. Labor organizations discussed about the many jobs that it will provide for the community. Community leaders mentioned the benefits for the local economy.
Apple Tree Fergus Falls
On Friday, Apple Tree Dental broke ground on a new facility in Fergus Falls to better serve special needs and low-income families in West Central Minnesota who are not served by other dentists. Apple Tree CEO Dr. Michael Helgeson praised community and private foundation leaders for coming together to fund the construction of a much-needed facility that will fulfill the needs of an underserved community, while creating jobs in Fergus Falls. Funding was provided by the Veden Charitable Trust, Delta Dental Foundation of Minnesota, and the Otto Bremer Trust. This is a great example of a private/public partnership creating opportunities in rural Minnesota.
Northwest Minnesota Foundation
The Northwest Minnesota Foundation held its annual update meeting in Bemidji. Karen White, Executive Director, gave a positive report on several programs such as the foundation’s financial growth, childcare expansion, student scholarships, small business development, and housing and homeless youth. Board President Tom Anderson and Peter Haddeland will retire after serving 8 years on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Campus Advisory and Advancement Board from the University of Minnesota Crookston tours the Sugar Beet Museum
The University of Minnesota Crookston displayed a selection of photos by Russell Lee from the Library of Congress about the “Roots of the Red River Valley.” The Campus Advisory and Advancement Board for the UMN Crookston campus visited the Sugar Beet Museum in Crookston to get a better understanding of the pioneer sugar beet farmers and their equipment.
Lake Bronson Veterans Memorial
Spending time at Lake Bronson Veteran’s Memorial is a great way to commemorate our Veterans’ service and sacrifice for our country.
Rural Hospital Frontier Workforce Fairness Act
This week, I introduced the Rural Hospital Frontier Workforce Fairness Act with Rep. Scott Tipton to provide Sole Community Hospitals with increased funding to hire staff. This bipartisan legislation is important to rural hospitals because it will help them retain the necessary staff to provide care for their communities.
On Veterans’ Day, I asked your thoughts about issues facing our veterans. Here is what you had to say:
Over the last two weeks, the United States has spent $15 billion on serving the debt. That is significantly more than the $11.4 billion that will be spent this year on the U.S. Department of Commerce. The U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for promoting job creation and economic growth for the US. Without our unsustainable debt, we could put more money towards programs that promote economic growth.
As a fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat, I have continually supported a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would require Congress to get our fiscal house in order. I have also fought for Pay-As-You-Go legislation to ensure legislation doesn’t add to our debt and recently voted against the Democratic budget which would have worsened our fiscal situation.
China Lifts Ban on Imports of U.S. Poultry
Last Thursday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that China will lift its ban on imports of U.S.-produced poultry products. This announcement is finally a step in the right direction, especially for the more than 1200 poultry operations in my district. It is something I have pressed the Administration over and over on, including in my recent conversation with Ambassador Doud at USTR. I hope the Administration can also make progress on the other trade access issues within the Chinese Market, end these damaging tariffs, and help our farmers expand and develop new export markets.
USDA Extends Flexibility of Crop Insurance Premiums
The USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced last week that it will continue to defer accrual of interest for 2019 crop year insurance premiums to help farmers affected by extreme weather in 2019. USDA will defer the accrual of interest on 2019 crop insurance premiums to the earlier of the applicable termination date or January 31, 2020, for all policies with a premium billing date of August, 15, 2019.
For more information, USDA encourages producers to contact their crop insurance agents.
Letter on Midwest Propane Shortages
This week, I led a bipartisan letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Neil Chatterjee on behalf of farmers and the Midwest to bring awareness of the need for a supply of propane.
100th Anniversary of the American Farm Bureau Federation
This week, the American Farm Bureau Federation celebrated their 100th anniversary. They have a longstanding tradition of advocacy on behalf of agriculture and rural America, assuring that the voices of farmers, ranchers, and rural communities are heard in legislative matters. To commemorate the American Farm Bureau Federation, I introduced H.Res 45, congratulating them on a century of fighting for America’s farmers and ranchers.
This Week in History
On November 12, 1882, the first centralized labor organization formed in the state of Minnesota. The Labor organization was made up of five craft unions and two knights of labor assemblies and was called the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly.