Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 12/23/2019
TOP: Kaija Weishalla and family after receiving her Air Force Academy Appointment (BERTHA), BOTTOM: Minnesota Christmas Tree decorated by Christian Riverside (EAST GRAND FORKS)
The final legislative week of 2019 was busy as the House of Representatives focused on finishing year-end business. Congress passed a government funding bill and tax extenders to avoid a government shutdown and keep it open through the end of September 2020. This funding bill also renewed the biodiesel tax credit from 2017 through 2022, which provides the biofuels industry with much-needed certainty in the near future, and disaster funding for sugar producers to cover losses from this year’s weather. The House also passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).I have been pushing for months to get this deal finished and I am pleased that this passed because it will preserve and expand markets for Minnesota farmers. On Wednesday, the House voted to Impeach President Trump. The impeachment process has been highly partisan and divisive since the beginning, and the influx of calls from constituents on both sides of the issue only proves that this has further divided our country. I believe that only bipartisan action can address the country’s most pressing challenges, which is why I voted no on impeachment. In addition, The EPA released a final 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard Rule, that lets down our farmers again. I am disappointed to see how the EPA has continually undermined the RFS and created more uncertainty for the agriculture economy. On Thursday, I was happy to call Kaija Weishalla at Bertha-Hewitt High School and congratulate her on her appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Congratulations Kaija! I look forward to continuing to fight for Minnesota’s 7th District in 2020. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted on the Impeachment of President Trump. This entire process has been highly partisan and only further divided Democrats and Republicans.
The House voted 385-41 and passed a trade deal known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which modernizes the 25-year-old NAFTA arrangement. The Senate needs to pass the bill as well before the President is able to sign it into law. I was eager to vote yes on this bill because USMCA preserves key agricultural access to our neighbors to the north and south. It also includes important Intellectual Property protections and increases the value threshold of duty-free goods that enter Canada, which will help small- to medium-sized businesses in the 7th District.
Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Les Anderson and National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross
I met with presidents of the Minnesota and National Corn Growers Associations last week to discuss the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA). Mexico is one of the top destinations for exports of American corn and the USMCA will give certainty to our growers who export to Mexico. The House of Representatives passed USMCA last week and I was glad to support it. I hope to see the Senate approve the trade deal soon and secure this agreement for our producers.
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing to discuss access to conservation programs by historically underserved farmers and ranchers last week. Socially disadvantaged groups, women, beginning farmers, veterans and those with limited resources have historically struggled to attain fair treatment under certain farm programs. The 2018 Farm Bill included a number of provisions to address these issues and incentivize participation by underserved groups in USDA programs. The Subcommittee heard from several witnesses about the opportunities made possible by USDA programs and the importance of keeping programs accessible to all Americans.
First District Association Meeting in Litchfield
I was honored to speak at the First District Association annual meeting in Litchfield. I’m very positive about the future of dairy and encourage young people to consider dairy farming as a career. As part of my visit, I met with Bob Huffman, First District CEO, his wife Jennifer, and two of their children. I also heard from several farmers, including Cyril Felling of Sauk Centre, and discussed trade, the dairy margin coverage, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
Air Force Academy Appointee
On Thursday, I got to call Kaija Walleishalla to tell her that she was appointed to the United States Air Force Academy. This is one of the highlights of my job as a Representative
United Farm Workers for America
The United Farm Workers for America visited my office to thank me for my cosponsorship on the Farm Worker Modernization Act, which passed the House last week. It is vital to the agriculture economy that farms have a reliable and legal source of workers. I am proud to be a supporter of this bipartisan legislation.
Minnesota Christmas Tree
Each year, the walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees that are decorated with hand made ornaments. This year, the Minnesota Christmas Tree had ornaments that were decorated by students at Riverside Christian School in East Grand Forks.
Representatives from Polaris stopped by this week to drop off a 1:18 model of their RZR sport side-by-side produced in the Roseau facility. Polaris are able to make modifications to the product line and produce military-grade vehicles known as MRZRs that are used by the U.S. Marine Corps. This is a key manufacturer in rural America and I wish their employees a happy holiday season.
Grain Bin Rescue Facility
On Tuesday, my staff toured the grain rescue training facility that the Ekdahl’s own and operate in Elbow Lake. They have the facility, knowledge and training that they would like to share with farmers across the district to prevent tragic farm accident deaths from occurring.
Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs
This week, my staff Meg Louwagie met with the State of Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs (MDVA) for a Congressional Delegation Staff Roundtable. Many topics were covered at this roundtable including the state and federal legislative initiative, veterans’ homelessness and suicide prevention, and an update on the new Minnesota state veterans homes. MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke discussed MDVA priorities for this coming year such as veteran home security, asset preservation, and campus enhancement.
Minnesota Food Shelves
Food shelves are especially important during the winter months. An energetic group of volunteers helped the Loaves and Fishes Food Shelf in Fosston to prepare for Christmas. The food shelf serves about 70 families each month and they serve about 38 older people each month. They receive food from the food bank and seek donations from various stores. The Loaves and Fishes Food Shelf is run solely by volunteers and participates in USDA food programs.
Northwest Minnesota Farm Meetings
Farming can be a stressful occupation. While you get to be your own boss, you feel responsible for a lot and can control very little. That certainly was true with the weather this year. According to John Wheeler, Chief Meteorologist, WDAY, 2019 had the wettest fall in 125 years in northwestern Minnesota. Many farmers could not harvest their crops or get their fields ready for next year.
Last week, my staff LeRoy Stumpf visited with Earl Mallinger of Oslo at a recent meeting. Earl farms in the Red River Valley and is 102 years old. He shared many stories about his farming years near Oslo.
Water Impoundments Work
With such a wet fall and huge losses to farmers this year, the Red Lake Watershed District (RLWD) shared water impoundment data to measure the water that was held back. The RLWD has 8 impoundment areas that affect Pennington, Marshall, Red Lake, Clearwater, Itasca, Mahnomen, Beltrami, Koochiching, Roseau and Polk Counties. The water storage this Fall in the 8 impoundment pools and 2 wildlife areas was 151,946 acre-feet or 237.41 square miles at 1 foot depth.
Winter in the 7th
My staff shared photos they took of winter scenes throughout the 7th District.
Last week, I asked you your thoughts on legislation to lower prescription drug costs. Here is what you had to say:
This week, many families will celebrate Christmas. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend $700 on gifts, totaling $465 billion. If that money was spent entirely on American made products, it would create an estimated 4.6 million jobs. In comparison, the United States will have spent over $386 billion this year servicing the national debt. That money could be used to create millions of jobs or fund other programs that boost the economy, but instead the United States is using it to pay down our growing federal deficit.
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.
Environmental Protection Agency Lets Farmers Down Again
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a supplemental rule to address the Small Refinery Waiver actions that have been taken this year. The EPA has only continued to let farmers down by undermining the Renewable Fuel Standard. This rule is no different. The RFS is crucial to supporting the rural economy, and I am disappointed by the EPAs action.
Census Bureau Hiring Hundreds in Minnesota
The Census Bureau is hiring hundreds of people across Minnesota for a variety of 2020 census-related positions. Positions are available in every county and pay between $16 per hour and $27.50 per hour. If you are interested in learning more, visit 2020census.gov/jobs.
This Week in History
On December 20th, 1902, Clearwater county was established. It was named for Clearwater Lake and River.