Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/1/2019
This week, I chaired the Agriculture Committee’s first hearing of the new Congress with Agriculture Secretary Perdue. This hearing gave members of the Committee an opportunity to hear from the Secretary about issues facing the farm economy, such as the proposed cuts to the USDA budget, the effect of trade disputes on agriculture, and the urgent need to implement the new dairy program created by the 2018 Farm Bill. The Veterans’ Affairs Committee also had a hearing with Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Wilkie, where we discussed issues ranging from the VA’s long-term care programs to the need to better address the effects of Agent Orange exposure. Serving our farmers and veterans requires bipartisan leadership, and I am encouraged by the problem-solving attitudes that I saw from my colleagues on both committees and from the Secretaries. I’m also glad to announce that after weighing in with the IRS Commissioner, I was able to get the IRS to delay the filing deadline for farmers and ranchers from March 1st to April 15th. This is a huge victory for farmers across the country, and I thank everyone who reached out to my office about this issue.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
IRS publishes Notice Providing Relief for Farmers Filling Deadline after Peterson Letter
On Thursday, the IRS published Notice 2019-17 providing for a waiver of the addition to tax for underpayment of estimated income tax by qualifying farmers. The deadline for these filings were set to be March 1st, but due lack of guidance from IRS relating to Sec. 199A, coupled with continued effects from the government shutdown, I heard from numerous CPA firms across Minnesota and the country that farmers were not going to be able to meet this filing deadline. Once this was brought to my attention, I alerted the IRS Commissioner, Charles Rettig, about the problem. My letter to the IRS requested relief for farmers and ranchers by effectively extending the filing deadline to April 15. I will continue to work with IRS to insure guidance relating to Sec. 199A comes out in a timely manner, so farmers know how to navigate the significant changes made under the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Read my press release here.
Agriculture Committee Hearing with Secretary Perdue
On Wednesday, The House Committee on Agriculture welcomed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for our first full committee hearing of the new congress. I stressed my concerns to Secretary Perdue about how potential funding cuts would impact the overall health of the Agriculture Department and the state of the farm economy, and spoke about the important role that rural broadband connectivity plays in allowing small communities to access essential services. We also discussed the farm bill implementation, the state of the dairy program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I look forward to working with Secretary Perdue as we continue to monitor the farm bill rollout.
Click here to watch the hearing.
To read my opening statement, click here.
Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing with Secretary Wilkie
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs heard testimony from U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie. My top priorities on the committee include advocating for federal funding matches for the Bemidji and Montevideo new skilled-nursing veterans home proposals and extending benefits to veterans exposed to Agent Orange. I submitted written questions for the record on these issues and look forward to receiving a response from Secretary Wilkie.
(Top) Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership’s Class X
(Bottom) David Thompson (EAST GRAND FORKS), Jason Schatzke (Wheatland, ND), Duane Maatz (Fargo, ND), Rod Olson (HALSTAD) with the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Association
I met with Minnesota groups in Washington this week to share my experience as a representative of an agriculture district, and to receive a status update on the sugarbeet industry in the Red River Valley. Minnesota Agriculture & Rural Leadership (MARL)’s Class X met with me as part of the two-year-long MARL program. They came to learn more about the farm bill and my work as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. I was happy to answer the group’s questions and meet many promising leaders from rural Minnesota. Folks with the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Association came by my office to thank me for supporting sugarbeet growers through the 2018 Farm Bill. We also discussed the changes made to Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), and the effect trade disputes are having on the industry.
(Left) Cody Hollerich, Jonathon Lehman – American Coalition for Ethanol and Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish
(Right) Stacy Koppen, Amy Thering, Melissa Larsen and Merrilee Olson - Minnesota School Nutrition Association and House Agriculture Committee Staff Jasmine Dickerson
(Left) Jeff Grev – Hormel Foods
(Right) Northern Plains Potato Growers Association President Donovan Johnson (EAST GRANT FORKS), Jackson Hall (Edinburg, ND), National Potato Council (NCP) Board Member Lance Hapka (HALMA), John Tweten (Grand Forks, ND), NCP Board Member TJ Hall (Edinburg, ND), Zach Bruer (EAST GRAND FORKS)
My staff met with Minnesota groups to discuss agriculture and nutrition issues this week. Representatives of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association came by to talk about the shortage of dedicated potato researchers at USDA and the challenges to agriculture related to the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate for commercial truck drivers. I authored two bills during the 115th Congress that would provide relief from the ELD mandate for agriculture and I plan to reintroduce those bills during this Congress. Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish and Jonathon Lehman from the American Coalition for Ethanol came by alongside other soil health advocates to discuss ways to reduce and capture carbon emissions in agriculture. The Minnesota School Nutrition Association discussed the importance of funding the school meal programs to allow more students to benefit from affordable and healthy meals at school. Jeff Grev of Hormel Foods visited with my staff on Tuesday to talk about labor shortages in rural communities, the ongoing trade negotiations and the effect of retaliatory tariffs, and Hormel’s issues with the ELD mandate.
National Indian Gaming Association
I spoke to members of the National Indian Gaming Association about my cosponsorship of the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act. This bill respects the sovereignty of tribal nations by ensuring tribal governments the right to implement labor standards of their choosing. I look forward to this bill receiving consideration by the House this Congress.
Disabled American Veterans
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization presented their legislative agenda in a joint Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday. My Staff Aide Zach Martin met with Minnesota members of the DAV to talk about concerns ranging from opposing the privatization of the VA, providing better health services towards women veterans, and extending disability benefits to “Blue Water” Vietnam veterans.
The American Legion was also able to present their legislative agenda for the 116th Congress in front of a joint Senate and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing. The organization’s priorities included veteran suicide prevention efforts, monitoring the implementation of the VA Mission Act, “Blue Water” veterans, and more.
Minnesota Broadcasters Association
This week, the Minnesota Broadcasters Association visited Washington, D.C. to talk about legislation affecting Minnesota’s radio and television broadcasters. Our local broadcasters help connect our communities and are an important tool in information sharing. I look forward to working together on policies that help keep Minnesotans on air.
I sat down with Jan Zakowski of AIPAC to discuss support for Israel as our greatest ally in the region. I have consistently supported military support for Israel which includes the Iron Dome program and addressing concerns related to a movement aimed at boycotting goods made in Israel.
East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce
Last Friday, I stopped in East Grand Forks for a visit with city and county officials, as well as business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce intergovernmental retreat. We had a good visit and I updated the attendees on my work as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and as a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Prairie Public Broadcasting
John Harris, President/CEO of Prairie Public Broadcasting and Britt Jacobson, Board of Director’s Chair
Prairie Public Broadcasting visited Washington this week to provide an update on the importance of public television to rural Minnesota. Prairie Public serves the Fargo-Moorhead area with educational and entertainment programming. I’m proud to support our public broadcasters and the unique role they play in our hard-to-reach rural communities
Fraternal Order of Police
Gary Cayo, Josef Garcia, and Pat Chelmo
This week, members of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police visited my office to discuss issues facing our men and women in blue, from pension and law enforcement parity issues to funding in the upcoming appropriations bills. I will continue to work to provide our law enforcement officers the tools they need to effectively perform their duties and keep Minnesotans safe.
Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA)
Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association came to Washington this week to talk about the ongoing need for affordable and reliable electricity in rural Minnesota. MMUA continues to play a pivotal role in providing power to our communities and serves over 100 municipal electrical utilities in Minnesota.
Minnesota Biofuels Association
Biofuels represent a growing marketplace for Minnesota’s corn and soybean farmers, and a member of my staff met with the Minnesota Biofuels Association this week. Minnesota is the fourth largest producer of ethanol in the United States, and I support the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) which provides the stability farmers need to expand production. As co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, I will keep fighting for ethanol and its role in a more secure and prosperous economy.
Kittson County Natural Resource Conservation Service
A member of my staff recently visited with Jim Schwab of the Kittson County Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Hallock. Jim noted that the Northcote soil type comprises 188,000 acres (or about 30%) of Kittson County. This soil is made with layers of dense clay and is nearly water resistant. It is also extremely productive – farmers can average 26-28 tons of sugarbeets per acre per year. The name of the soil came from the town of Northcote, where railroad developer James J. Hill had a bonanza livestock and grain farm that he purchased in 1880’s.
Opportunity Zones Workshop
On Thursday, my staff attended a workshop on Opportunity Zones. This federal program offers a tool to attract private investment through investor tax breaks for community projects. Housing is a priority for many communities in the 7th District and this could be a great tool to advance those projects. It’s great to see so much interest from communities and organizations. I look forward to seeing the projects that result from the program.
Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act
On Wednesday, myself and several bipartisan members introduced the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act in the House. This bill would require all group and individual health plans to cover medically necessary services related to congenital anomalies and birth defects. Though many states have laws requiring insurers to provide this coverage, health plans routinely deny this type of coverage to customers by dismissing these treatments as cosmetic procedures. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that customers can afford expensive reconstructive treatments and is particularly aimed at assisting children in the early developmental stages of their lives. I look forward to seeing this bill advance.
The Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act
This week I introduced a bipartisan bill, the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, to help address the critical shortage of available and affordable child care throughout Minnesota. Joined by Rep. Jaime Herrera Buetler (R-WA), and Senators Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sullivan (R-AK), this bill will create a grant program that helps child care providers complete required certifications or improve child care facilities within child care deserts. This shortage has become a crisis in Minnesota and across the country, especially in rural communities, making it increasingly difficult for employers to recruit and retain workers. Over a quarter of Minnesotans live in a child care desert – an area with either no child care providers or three times as many children needing child care as available slots. This legislation is a necessary investment in our rural workforces and Minnesotan families.
This Week in American History
On February 24, 1925, Minnesota lost two and a half acres of water area from the Northwest Angle (the northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods) to Canada when the United States and the Canada signed an agreement that more accurately defined the international boundary between the two countries established by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.
What’s the Story?
This winter has been particularly unforgiving. A member of my staff sent me this photo that he took at Lake Bronson State Park, where the local snow depth averaged out to 19 inches as of February 21st.