Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/15/2019
Agriculture Listening Session with Rep. Angie Craig
This week, the Administration released the budget they would like to see passed for fiscal year 2020, which calls for deep cuts to a number of programs important to rural America, including crop insurance, rural water, and housing programs. While budget proposals made by Presidents of either party are often discarded, I am always concerned about the possibility of harmful proposals picking up steam. I had a number of interesting meetings with Minnesotans including the new DNR Commissioner, and students from Glencoe-Silver Lake High School. As Western Minnesota deals with yet another winter storm, I’d also like to thank the professionals at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks for the work they do to ensure residents and local leaders have the information they need to prepare for storms and the possibility of major flooding in the area.
I always appreciate your feedback, and this week, I have included a questionnaire in this newsletter to get your take on things.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
(Top) Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Garth Kaste (FERTILE), Matt Fenske // Ohio Farm Bureau
(Bottom) Minnesota Corn Growers Association
This week, I invited General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee Chairman Filemon Vela (D-TX) to join me in a meeting with leaders of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. We discussed the President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 and the next steps in the federal budgeting process. The Corn Growers are glad to have had a farm bill pass in 2018 that preserves the agriculture safety net that farmers depend on during difficult times. However, America’s producers continue face the challenges of low prices and limited access to foreign markets. Trade uncertainty continues to make growers nervous as they make decisions for this year’s crop. Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee Chairwoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and I met with the American Seed Trade Association on Tuesday. They updated us on their work crafting seed mixes for cover cropping and for use in farm bill conservation programs like CRP, EQIP and CSP. Garth Kaste from Kaste Seed in Fertile was with the group and he shared his experience working with USDA as a seed dealer in Minnesota. Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) invited me to speak to members of the Ohio Farm Bureau on Wednesday and I was glad to talk with them about the work the Agriculture Committee will be doing during the 116th Congress.
Debbie and Brian Lacey (WENDELL) - National Barley Improvement Council // Minnesota Lamb and Wool // Dr. Gordon Spronk and Dr. Scott Dee (PIPESTONE)
My office met with groups to discuss the issues affecting their sectors of agriculture this week. Members of the National Barley Improvement Council advocated for strong agriculture research funding in fiscal year 2020. The Agriculture Research Service (ARS), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), and the Economic Research Service (ERS) collect data and perform research to increase the yield and resilience of many crops, including barley, and I have been a strong advocate for agriculture research funding. Minnesota Lamb and Wool met with my team to discuss topics related to increasing our nation’s ability to prevent and respond to disease outbreaks in livestock populations, the need for relief from the ELD mandate for livestock haulers, and ways to reform the nation’s guest worker programs like the H2-A visa. On Thursday, Doctors Gordon Spronk and Scott Dee from Pipestone Veterinary Services gave my staff an update on what USDA and Customs and Border Patrol are doing to prevent an outbreak of the African Swine Fever Virus in the U.S. They also shared information they gathered from their last trip to China, where they heard from Chinese pork producers that have been affected by outbreaks of the ASF.
Agriculture Listening Session with Rep. Angie Craig
Today, I joined Rep. Angie Craig for an agriculture listening session at a farm near Red Wing Minnesota. We had a strong turnout from people in the area who were interested in the implementation for the farm bill and the outlook for the rural economy. The farm bill included significant changes to the programs for dairy producers, so it is important to share information about this new program with producers and their lenders.
Minnesota Conservation Delegation
Troy Daniell (MN State Conservationist), Sarah Strommen (DNR Commissioner), LeAnn Buck (Executive Director, MN Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts), Ian Cunningham (Secretary/Treasurer, National Association of Conservation Districts), and John Jaschke (Executive Director, MN Board of Water and Soil Resources)
I welcomed a Minnesota conservation delegation to my Agriculture Committee office to discuss the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill, the Walk-In Access program, and the potential for severe flooding around Minnesota. I was a steady advocate for a strong Conservation Title that will improve water and wildlife quality across Minnesota.
Glencoe-Silver Lake High School Students
After getting a tour of the Capitol from my office, I met with students from Glencoe-Silver Lake High School. These seniors had a busy time in Washington, seeing the sights and learning more about how their government operates. In our meeting, we talked about a few issues including how lakes are managed to provide fishing opportunities for Minnesotans. After meeting with me, the students headed over to the Senate to meet with Senator Klobuchar.
Chris Hanson, Steve Rust, CEO Emily Skor, Mick Miller (MORRIS)
There is no shortage of activity in the biofuels industry and this week was no exception. Growth Energy visited with my staff to discuss EPA’s proposed rule regarding E15 and changes to RIN market structure. There are major concerns within each section of the rule and I will hold the agency accountable for actions that further erode demand for our home-grown renewable fuels.
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
Bob Narveson (President & CEO, Thrifty White Pharmacy), Martin McNichols (Student Pharmacist, North Dakota State University), Rebekah Solem, Tim Weippert (COO, Thrifty White Pharmacy)
Representatives from Thrifty White Pharmacy as well as a student pharmacist visited my Washington office as part of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Day on Capitol Hill. They talked with my staff about a number of issues impacting pharmacies and those they serve in the 7th District, including the pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees. The group also discussed proposed legislation intended to help address the opioid crisis. It is critical that we support solutions to combat addiction, and I will continue to work to find ways to address this epidemic.
Student advocates from LeadMN visited my Washington office to discuss the challenges our two-year college students face. Associate and vocational degrees train students for the good paying jobs that are available right now in the 7th district. I have continuously supported legislation to double the interest rate tax deduction, to keep federal student loan interest rates low and allow students to refinance at those lower rates. I will continue to support our students as they pursue educational opportunities and join the workforce in Minnesota.
National League of Cities
Local leaders from all over Minnesota came to D.C. this week as part of the National League of Cities (NLC). NLC represents over 19,000 cities, towns, and villages to advocate for communities that too often get left behind. They talked with my staff about the need for affordable housing, transportation funding, and rural broadband. Our rural local governments need strong investment to bring new work, businesses, and families to greater Minnesota.
National Association of Postal Supervisors
This week members of the National Association of Postal Supervisors visited with my staff to discuss my continued efforts to support the U.S. postal service and protect access for rural America. I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure the USPS can continue servicing Americans.
American Postal Workers Union
This week members of the American Postal Workers Union visited my office to discuss the state of the USPS. I will continue to advocate for postal reforms to allow the service to remain solvent and preserve the service standards rural America relies on.
Minnesota Credit Unions
The Minnesota Credit Unions association stopped by my office to discuss issues facing the financial services industry in rural America. I appreciate all our credit unions do to provide access to capital in rural markets.
Minnesota Professional Firefighters Association
This week members of the Minnesota Professional Firefighters Association paid my office a visit to discuss the needs of our firefighters. I was very pleased to hear of the work our firefighters are doing to combat mental illness. I will continue to work to secure funding, so our first responders can effectively protect Minnesotans. I appreciate their hard work keeping our communities safe.
Minnesota Council on Foundations
Bob Tracy and Katina Mortensen visited with my staff to discuss issues facing Minnesota non-profits. They highlighted issues regarding the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which inhibit vital community non-profits. I appreciate all the hard work folks like Bob and Katina do to support Minnesotans.
Northwest Technical College Listening Session
Northwest Technical College’s Manufacturing Technology Program had a listening session with industrial leaders, college faculty and administration. The College Manufacturing Technology program is exploring ways to advance and expand their program. All over our state we see the need of manufacturers and businesses to hire trained employees. It is good to see our higher education system partner with employers to provide the training that is needed in the workforce.
Lunch with Leaders in Albany
This week my staff were in Albany for a Lunch with Leaders event, coordinated by area workforce specialists to help make new connections and discuss workforce challenges and opportunities. Local leadership included representatives from the city, county, school district and several area businesses. After the meeting the group had the opportunity to tour Wells Concrete and RotoChopper. Meetings like this help our office get to know your community better and provide more support as you work on new opportunities. If your community is interested in hosting a meeting like this please contact Jacki Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fargo-Moorhead Opera Young Artists Program
The Fargo-Moorhead Young Artists Opera brought the opera to Thief River Falls this week. They sang pieces from South Pacific, Beethoven and even The Beatles. The talented young artists are from Minnesota, Florida, Massachusetts, Montreal, and Canada. Their upcoming Fargo-Moorhead production will be Cosi fan tutte Opera on March 22nd at 7:30 and March 24th at 2pm at Weld Hall at MSUM and “Carmen Opera” on April 12th and 13th at 7:30 pm at Festival Concert Hall at NDSU.
Warren Student Awarded 2019 Soy Scholarship
Jessica Olson and American Soybean Association President Davie Stephens (photo courtesy of the American Soybean Association / Joe Murphy)
Jessica Olson of Warren was awarded the $5,000 Soy Scholarship award during the American Soybean Association’s annual Awards Banquet in Orlando last week. The Soy Scholarship is granted to a student who excels in both academics and in leadership roles and plans to pursue a degree in an agriculture-related field. Jessica has demonstrated her leadership potential through her involvement in 4-H and FFA, through her engagement in sports and the arts, and through volunteer work with her church and other community outreach organizations. I congratulate Jessica on this achievement and I look forward to hearing about her future endeavors.
2019 Congressional Art Competition
I am glad to announce my office is now accepting applications for the 2019 Congressional Art Competition. The winning artwork will be featured for one year in the United States Capitol.
This contest is a great way to display artwork from students across the Seventh District and I would encourage every high school artist to participate.
More information is available on my website. Faculty or students with questions can also contact Cody Hollerich in my Washington, D.C. Office at 202-225-2165. The deadline for all submissions is Wednesday, April 24, 2019.
Carbon Capture Modernization Act
On Thursday, I joined Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) in introducing a bill that modifies a tax incentive to encourage the installation of carbon capture and sequestration projects at qualifying generation units. The bill aims to promote investment in innovative energy technologies that make coal-fired plants cleaner and more efficient. I look forward to working with my colleagues to promote common sense legislation like this.
EPA Breaks Ethanol’s 20 Year Growth Streak
New data shows that the EPA helped break a 20-year growth streak for ethanol. The ethanol industry has continued to grow through many challenges over the years from droughts to the great recession. But following the destructive administration of the RFS under former EPA Administrator Pruitt, the volumes of ethanol consumed in the U.S. actually declined for the first time in 20 years.
The EPA’s approval of ‘economic hardship’ waivers for refineries owned by large profitable oil companies led to fewer gallons of ethanol being consumed, and the average percentage of ethanol in our fuel going down as well. This week the EPA continued to approve more waivers, further hurting the ethanol market. To stop this abuse, I will be introducing a bill which will require the EPA to reallocate all waived gallons among remaining obligated parties in order to stop the massive reduction in renewable fuels in the marketplace. As co-chair of the Biofuels Caucus, I’ve warned the EPA in three different letters about the harm the misuse of these refinery waivers has for our farmers, the biofuels industry and the rural communities that depend on them. EPA’s ongoing attack on the RFS begs the question “who is giving EPA its marching orders?”
Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act
This week, another 4 Members of Congress joined as cosponsors of my bill titled the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act. This brings the total to 17 cosponsors. Of the four new cosponsors, two are fellow Minnesotans Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. Dean Phillips. I want to thank all the advocates who are continuing to write and call their Representatives to build support for this bill which helps people with congenital anomalies or birth defects can get the medically necessary reconstructive treatments they need. This week members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) visited with my office and other offices and shared their support for the bill as well.
Electronic Logging Device Exemption Bills
Small trucking companies, independent owner-operators, and our agricultural product haulers face unique challenges in helping move Minnesota products all over the country. This week I reintroduced two pieces of legislation, along with Rep. Gianforte (R-MT), to prevent unreasonable regulations from hurting our truckers and our livestock. The Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act will exempt businesses which operate ten or fewer commercial trucks from the requirements of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, and the Agricultural Business Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act will exempt agricultural businesses.
To learn more and read statements of support from the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota State Cattlemen Association, Small Business in Transportation Coalition, and others, visit my website.
This Week in American History
On March 15, 2002, the Minnesota State Legislature passed a law requiring diesel fuel sold in Minnesota to contain at least 2 percent bio-diesel from animal or vegetable fats. The law also projected future increases in this percentage, up to 20 percent.
The Dobratz family from Hutchinson toured the U.S. Capitol with my office this week