Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 11/25/2019
Agriculture Subcommittee Roundtable on Broadband Technology
As the media circus on the impeachment hearings consumed Washington, I worked with Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) to introduce legislation that will strengthen our economy by boosting our support for rural businesses. This bill will help companies like Mattracks from Karlstad who rely on exports to support workers right here in Western Minnesota. Rural hospitals continue to face stress, so I introduced the Rural Hospital Frontier Workforce Fairness Act with Rep. Tipton (R-CO) to attract and maintain healthcare professionals. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hosted VA Secretary Wilkie for a legislative hearing on a bill to address the vitally important issue of veterans’ suicide. I also participated in two Agriculture Committee events, one looking at stress in the agriculture economy, and another related to the newest technologies to bring highspeed broadband to rural residents. Additional highlights from the week include a call with USDA leadership in support of agriculture disaster assistance; meeting with the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association about infrastructure investments; and catching up with the Minnesota Soybean Growers about biofuels and tax policy. The week ended with President Trump signing a short-term government spending measure that I voted for which will keep our government open as budget negotiations continue.
As families and friends make preparations to see each other this Thursday - I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
This year’s weather has been tough for farmers in western Minnesota. After hearing from countless farmers and producers, I led the Minnesota delegation in requesting a disaster designation for affected counties in Minnesota to provide funding through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). This request is still awaiting approval at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), so I joined Senator Hoeven and Tom Astrup, CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company in a call to urge USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey to provide assistance for sugar growers. Earlier this year, Secretary Northey visited the Red River Valley, where he saw first hand the impacts of the wet fall and early snow storm.
On Tuesday, The Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit held a hearing to discuss credit conditions in rural America. The Subcommittee heard testimony from Farm Credit Administration Chairman and CEO Glen R. Smith about his work and his outlook for the future of farm financing. I asked Chairman Smith how the Administration’s implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard is affecting farmers and ethanol producers, and how we can expect them to hold up if the EPA continues down this path. Small refinery “hardship” waivers are hurting our producers and lowering demand for the crops they grow.
Minnesota Soybean Growers Association
Ron Obermoller (Brewster)
I met with representatives from the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association to talk about harvest, biofuels and the Administration’s implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and trade negotiations last week. The biodiesel industry is an important market for our soybean growers which adds value to their crop. I will continue to fight for the RFS here in Congress.
White Earth Nation
Secretary-Treasurer Alan Roy
Alan Roy, the Secretary-Treasurer of White Earth, visited Washington last week to provide an overview of issues affecting their members this winter and the negative effects a potential government shutdown would have on essential services.
I also cosponsored Savanna’s Act (H.R. 2733) this week. The bill directs the U.S. Attorney General to review, revise, and develop law enforcement protocols appropriate to address missing Native Americans and especially Native American women in order to increase coordination between Federal, State, Tribal, and local law enforcement agencies.
National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association
John Garrison (MORRIS), Doug Lambert (MORRIS), Tim Kuball (Martin Marietta, RICE) and Corey Poppe (MORRIS)
I met with the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association to discuss the important role building materials like stone, sand, and gravel play in the continued development of our infrastructure. I look forward to continuing our work in Congress to reauthorize the highway trust fund and support much need infrastructure improvements.
Rural Broadband Providers
Tim Brinkman (Garden Valley Technologies), David Schornack (Arvig), and Gary Johnson (Paul Bunyan Communications)
I sat down with Tim Brinkman (Garden Valley Technologies), David Schornack (Arvig), and Gary Johnson (Paul Bunyan Communications) to hear an update on advancements that are being made by rural broadband providers in serving our communities. I’m happy to hear of the continued progress building out fiber networks and will keep working to ensure connectivity for every Minnesota home.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
On Wednesday, I attended the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s “Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3495 and Draft bill, to establish a pilot program for the issuance of grants to eligible entities.” Both bills were versions of legislation seeking to address the vitally important topic of veteran suicide prevention. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3495, the Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act, and support efforts to help our veterans get the resources they need in a way that reaches them. The VA Secretary, Robert Wilkie, testified at this hearing in support of H.R. 3495 and also spoke to the ongoing conversations to reach a compromise on bill text. Over and over again, witnesses and Members spoke to the terrible fact that 20 veterans die by suicide each day. While there are some differences between the two versions, I am hopeful the differences can be ironed out as soon as possible so that we can use this funding to help veterans. We need to do more.
University of Minnesota LEND
Catherine Mapa, Jen Hall-Lande, Macdonald Metzger, Rebekah Solem, Muna Khalif
A delegation from the University of Minnesota visited my Washington office this week to thank me for my support of the Autism CARES law, which provides funding for Autism treatment and research programs, including Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs. Attendees were in town for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) conference and included current LEND fellows and faculty at the University of Minnesota. The group talked about the importance of this leadership training fellowship program and the impact it has on both the fellows themselves and the communities in which they work.
Riviana Wild Rice
My staff had the opportunity to visit the largest rice company in the world. Riviana Foods has a processing plant in Clearbrook in addition to 13 other plants in the United States and 6 plants in Canada. Riviana Clearbrook is the leading processor and marketer of Wild Rice in North America and Europe. The Clearbrook plant is in the center of one of the two largest wild rice growing areas in the world.
Minnesota Industrial Hemp Program
This year is the fourth growing season Minnesota farmers have been legally growing industrial hemp within the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. A new law authorizes the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recognize hemp as an agricultural commodity. The USDA will oversee state programs and give guidance on what those programs should look like. Hemp can be produced for grain that is high in protein and omegas, and is becoming a popular health food ingredient. Hemp fiber is renowned for its toughness and versatility. Some fibers can be made into textiles, car paneling, bio-plastics and insulation. Other fibers can be mixed with lime and made into a lightweight but strong concrete substitute called Hempcrete.
For more information contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Preparing Your Thanksgiving Turkey
Be sure to follow safe food handling and preparation guidelines this holiday season. Following some simple rules will ensure that your food is safe for the whole family to enjoy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips and guidelines for safely preparing your Thanksgiving bird. They also operate their Meat & Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854) on Thanksgiving Day that you can call for any last-minute cooking advice.
9 Veterans’ Affairs Bills Passed in House
Last week, the House of Representatives passed 9 bills that came out of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
- H.R. 4625 – Protect the GI Bill Act
- H.R. 4477 – Reducing High Risk to Veterans and Veterans Services Act
- H.R. 4771 – VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act
- H.R. 4360 – VA Overpayment Accountability Act
- H.R. 4356 – Protecting Families of Fallen Servicemembers Act
- H.R. 4162 – GI Bill Planning Act of 2019
- H.R. 3996 – VA Design-Build Construction Enhancement Act of 2019
- H.R. 1424 – Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act
- H.R. 3224 – Deborah Sampson Act
Last week, I asked your thoughts on propane shortages across the Midwest. Here is what you had to say:
In addition to these emergency measures, do you think it is in the national interest to promote additional regional storage or increased shipping capacity of propane to protect against supply shortages like what we faced this year?
By November 22 we will have spent $351 billion on servicing the national debt. That is the equivalent of the entire GDP for the state of Minnesota. The GDP for Minnesota is the total revenue for the state including farming, manufacturing and service jobs. Without our unsustainable debt we could put more money towards the Minnesota economy.
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.
National Rural Health Day
Thursday was National Rural Health Day. It is important to discuss the unique needs of rural communities and hospitals when discussing healthcare. Last week, I introduced the bipartisan Rural Frontier Workforce Fairness Act with Representative Scott Tipton to make sure that rural hospitals have the funding they need to attract and maintain workers needed to thrive.
Sacred Heart USDA Funding
This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $1.7 Million for rural infrastructure improvements in Sacred Heart. Infrastructure improvement projects like this in Sacred Heart are a critical part of community and economic development.
Governor’s Biofuels Council
I am pleased to announce that John Christianson from Willmar was appointed as a member to the Governor’s Biofuels Council on Friday. John’s personal knowledge extends to the beginnings of the ethanol industry as we know it today and his perspective will benefit the work of the Biofuels Council.
Applications are closing soon for my spring 2020 internship program in Washington. If you are interested in gaining hands-on experience in a congressional office, apply to my paid internship program by December 1st.
This Week in History
On November 19, 1855 the Hutchinson family founded the town of Hutchinson in McLeod County. The Hutchinson family were a family singing group known as the Hutchinson Family Singers. From 1841 until the end of the Civil War, they toured the United States giving concerts featuring patriotic and other popular songs.