Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 2/22/2019
Dairy town hall meeting in Melrose, MN
This week, I met with folks in Minnesota about how I can best serve their interests in Washington. To get anything done, you need to work in a bipartisan way. In that spirit, I co-hosted a bipartisan town hall in Stearns County with my colleague, Congressman Tom Emmer. The county is split between two congressional districts, so the discussion was lively, and both Congressman Emmer and I were able to hear from our constituents about border security, trucking regulations, the agriculture economy, the farm bill’s new dairy program, and many other issues. All in all, we agreed more than we disagreed. After the town hall, Congressman Emmer joined me on a visit to Warrior Boats and another meeting with irrigators. I look forward to doing more joint meetings in the future.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Melrose Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Tom Emmer
On Thursday, I co-hosted a joint town hall with Congressman Tom Emmer. Although one of the main goals of the meeting was to share information about the new dairy programs in the 2018 Farm Bill, we fielded questions on a variety of issues from the constituents who packed the hall. Being from different parties didn’t stop us from diving into a number of topics from the importance of strengthening our border security, to the need to reopen our export markets to help our struggling agriculture economy. In Washington, it is often hard to break through the rhetoric, but in Melrose, we discussed areas of common interest including the need for an improved immigration system that helps businesses find the workers they need to grow while respecting the rule of law. We also shared some of the reasons we support regulatory relief for small truckers and agriculture haulers. In the end, I was glad to co-host this event with Tom and look forward to doing another with him soon.
Congressman Emmer and I visited Warrior Boats in Melrose on Wednesday. Owner Chuck Barth gave us an update on opportunities and challenges in the boating industry. The bipartisan visit demonstrates our commitment to working together to support local commerce and our constituents.
Todd County Commissioners
On Thursday morning, I met with Todd County Commissioners and staff to discuss broadband and the farm bill. We had a good discussion about the success they have had with broadband and the challenges that still exist. Changes in the farm bill, especially the new provisions in dairy, will make a big difference in Todd County. I was glad to speak with them and to hear their updates.
University of Minnesota Crookston Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause
On Friday, I visited the UMC campus and spoke with Chancellor Holz-Clause. We had a great conversation about the importance of higher education and the needs of UMC’s student body. The future of agriculture, commerce, education, and STEM all depend on these students’ ability to access a quality education. I thank the Chancellor and all UMC for providing them with one.
Red River Watershed Management Board
This week, my staff attended a meeting of the Red River Watershed Management Board (RRWMB) in Thief River Falls. In 2015, the Red River Retention Authority entered into an agreement with USDA-NRCS to develop watershed plans in the Red River Basin with the goal of retaining water and reducing flood damages. Through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), local watershed sponsors, USDA-NRCS, the Red River Retention Authority, conservation partners, and watershed land owners are developing plans to improve water resource management and water quality and enhance wildlife habitat in the Red River Basin. The basin includes Minnesota, North Dakota, Manitoba and part of South Dakota.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MSCU) Chancellor Devinder Malhotra and the Board of Trustees visited my office this week to discuss the system’s workforce development initiatives. As a member of the Career and Technical Education Caucus, I understand the value of building partnerships between academic institutions and employers to train the next generation of workers. I was also happy to hear that MSCU plans to expand its agricultural education programs.
USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum
A member of my staff attended USDA’s annual Agriculture Outlook Forum in Washington, D.C. on Thursday this week. The two-day event invited farmers and ranchers, food industry professionals, grower and sales association representatives, and many others to hear from USDA experts about the outlook for agriculture during the coming year. USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson gave a presentation on the farm economy, livestock and crop price expectations for 2019, trade, and the farm bill. Global production of both crops and livestock are expected to continue growing throughout 2019 and prices for most products are projected to trend downward. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke alongside his counterparts from Canada and Mexico and expressed the importance of a strong and united trade arrangement between the North American countries. Secretary Perdue praised the proposed U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA), and said he would like to see it finalized by summer. While USMCA makes only modest gains for American agriculture, I agree that a North American trade agreement would bring certainty to our producers and clarity to those who rely on exports to add value to their products.
Letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Rettig on March 1st Filing Deadline for Farmers
This week, I sent a letter to the Commissioner of the IRS, Charles Rettig, requesting a waiver on penalties for missing the March 1st deadline for tax filings so farmers can avoid paying estimated taxes. Because of implementation issues with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, most notably the lack of guidance regarding Sec. 199A, coupled with the delay of Market Facilitation Program payments as a result of the government shutdown, many filers will be unable to meet this deadline. This is an opportunity for the IRS to work with the people to lessen their troubles and do the right thing.
Rural Hospital Frontier Fairness Act
This week, I reintroduced the Rural Hospital Frontier Fairness Act with Congressman Tipton (R-CO) to provide Sole Community Hospitals with increased funding to hire staff. The bipartisan legislation also expands eligibility for the 340b Drug Pricing Program to help these facilities afford increasingly expensive medications for patients. Not only do Minnesota’s hospitals need support to attract and retain needed staff, but they also rely on savings from the 340b program to expand their facilities, offer new services, or in many cases, simply keep their doors open.
AARP Foundation Tax Aide Assistance Locations in Minnesota
AARP recently announced they will be offering AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, a volunteer-led program that assists taxpayers with tax return preparation and e-filing. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is free for taxpayers with low- and moderate-income, and is especially geared toward those 50 and older. With the help of 35,000 volunteers, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has helped low to moderate income individuals in every state and the District of Columbia. In 2018, the program’s volunteers helped 2.5 million people understand the tax code and file their federal and state tax returns.
To find out more about the program or to find the Tax-Aide location nearest you, visit AARP’s website by clicking here.
NCAA Final Four
From April 5 – 8, college basketball fans from around the country will come to Minneapolis to watch the final games of the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament. Representatives of NCAA met with my staff this week to walk through the schedule of the Final Four weekend and to discuss the positive impact NCAA hopes to make on Minnesota. NCAA will remodel and restore an indoor basketball court at the North Commons Recreation Center in Minneapolis. They will also encourage third-graders to read through a Read to the Final Four campaign. The campaign will honor the schools and students with the highest minutes read per child with special recognition during the Final Four weekend.
In addition to the big games, many events will take place throughout the city during the weekend. Click here to find the full schedule of events and to read more about the Final Four Minneapolis.
This Week in American History
(Right) Norman County, MN Courthouse
On February 17, 1881, Norman County was established. Although the county’s name was once believed to honor influential settler and railway entrepreneur Norman W. Kittson, it is now understood that Norwegian settlers chose the name in remembrance of their homeland. The name is derived from the Norwegian word “Nordmann”, which some native Norwegians use to identify themselves.
What’s the Story?
The Department of the Army emblem hangs on the wall of my Washington, D.C. office. The emblem was designed to be displayed and is similar to the traditional Army Seal, which is not authorized for display. The emblem includes the year the Army was established, as well as the Army’s motto: “This We’ll Defend.” A snake is holding the scroll that bears the motto. The American flag and the Army flag are displayed on either side of an unsheathed sword. Above the sword is a Phrygian cap. On either side of the sword is an esponton spear and a musket. Beneath these lies a drum and two drumsticks.