Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/29/2019
Dawson – Lac Qui Parle County
Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day and an opportunity to recognize the service of all who served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. As a partner with the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration Program, I have presented hundreds of Special Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pins commemorating those who served during that difficult period in our nation’s history. Regardless of the branch they served, each veteran has a story to tell. Please thank a Vietnam vet and their families for their service today.
As the spring thaw progresses, I continue to listen to local leaders about the flood situation. We benefited from a dry fall, and I will continue to fight to ensure farmers and watershed planners have the tools they need to reduce the soil moisture level in the fall as part of a broader strategy to mitigate the risk of major flooding in western Minnesota. In Washington, I welcomed students from Osakis and Fertile-Beltrami to the Agriculture Committee and also met with the company that purchased Schwan’s Foods to hear their plans for future investments in the Midwest.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
Unarmed Civilian Protection Organizations
When I visited Fergus Falls last week, a constituent told me about Nonviolent Peaceforce U.S., a St. Paul-based organization which trains and protects civilians in conflict areas around the world. The goal of Nonviolent Peaceforce U.S. is to build relationships with communities located in violent regions and foster communication in order to deescalate potentially violent situations. After learning about the important work of this organization, I requested that House appropriators from the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee support unarmed civilian protection organizations.
Sources: University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota State
This week, a new University of Minnesota report confirmed what many Minnesota farmers already know – 2018 was a very difficult year for agriculture. Median farm incomes across the state were measured to be the lowest they have been in the last 23 years. While some producers fared better than others, 20 percent of participant reports showed losses of nearly $72,000 last year. Across all farms surveyed, 34 percent lost money and 53 percent lost working capital. The report cites a multi-year trends of low prices, trade issues, and bad weather among the factors that made last year so tough. On a positive note, their report indicated that the average Minnesota farm’s debt-to-asset ratio improved slightly in 2018 due to stable land prices.
It is frustrating to see our farmers and ranchers struggle while our international competitors expand operations abroad. Foreign markets add value to our products and play an important role in keeping our products competitive. Strong trade agreements will not solve all of the challenges facing agriculture, but certainty regarding our position in the global market would allow Americans to better prepare for the years ahead.
Minnesota Farm Bureau
Minnesota agriculture leaders from Minnesota Farm Bureau visited my office this week to discuss the farm economy in Minnesota, their farm bill implementation priorities, and trade issues. I enjoyed chatting with them about the issues affecting their communities and giving them a preview of the House Agriculture Committee’s agenda for the 116th Congress. The immediate implementation of the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program continues to be a top priority of mine. This week, I led a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to prioritize the implementation of the new dairy provisions.
Students from Osakis and Fertile-Beltrami
This week I welcomed a group of high school students from Osakis and Fertile-Beltrami to the Agriculture Committee. Their group had participated in a mock Congress, and one of the issues they were interested in was my position on the tariff war. The tariff war has been devastating to the agriculture economy and farm families who lost their markets. A number of students are from farm families, and at least one student said he plans to take over the family farm.
I met with CJ Bio on Wednesday to learn more about the company that purchased Schwan’s Foods. CJ America is a South Korean based company that is looking to invest and expand in the United States. CJ Bio talked about their track record of investing and modernizing manufacturing facilities in Iowa and I am hopeful that this investment will strengthen the presence Schwan’s Foods has in Western Minnesota.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District commander Colonel Calkins visited my office to give me an update on Army Corps projects in the district. We discussed the spring thaw and shared information about which areas were experiencing flooding and where emergency managers were expecting the waters to rise further. Overall, the warmup to this point has been very favorable in Western Minnesota. We benefited by having a relatively dry fall which allowed more of the snow to melt into the soil and limit overland flooding. That is why I would like to put more drain tile with control structures so we can bring down the soil moisture level in the fall in a more predictable way to further reduce the risk of major flooding in the future.
Every year, AIPAC holds a policy conference in Washington to discuss ways to build upon U.S.-Israel cooperative agreements. Minnesota members of AIPAC visited my office to discuss the continuation of U.S. military and security assistance to Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East region. I have been a consistent friend of Israel, and will continue supporting Israel and its people.
Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers
Representatives from the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers were in Washington this week to talk about the value of Community Health Centers across our district. There are 17 community health centers in Minnesota, open to everyone and offering comprehensive services based on community needs. The group expressed their appreciation for my support of Minnesota’s community health centers.
TRIO – Upward Bound
The Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) include eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs. I was happy to hear of the shared student stories, program successes, and continued commitment of our TRIO program advisors to ensure educational opportunity in the 7th district.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
Jean Bokinske (Concordia College), Jeanine Gangeness (Winona State University), Kenzie Lucca (Winona State University), John Rasmussen (University of Minnesota), Ayan Hassan (Winona State University), staff aide Rebekah Solem, Connie Delaney (Twin Cities Campus)
Nursing Deans and students from Minnesota visited my Capitol Hill office and talked with my staff aide Rebekah Solem as part of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s advocacy day. They talked about the great work being done by the nursing workforce in Minnesota and the need to continue supporting workforce development as there are shortages. The group talked about the phenomenal collaboration done by the nursing colleges in Minnesota to leverage the assets of each school. The advocates also discussed some of the challenges being faced in our communities, including an aging population and the opioid epidemic.
Minnesota Association of Workforce Boards
The Minnesota Association of Workforce Boards represents the interests of workforce development boards and local elected officials throughout Minnesota. This week, they visited my D.C. office to discuss workforce issues facing Minnesota counties including local job creation initiatives, economic development and labor issues, as well as the Administration’s budget proposal.
Masonic Cancer Center
Seanne Falconer (Executive Director & Associate Cancer Center Director for Administration)
On Tuesday, my staff aide Rebekah Solem met with Seanne Falconer, who is the Executive Director of the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. Not every state across the United States has a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers, but Minnesota is fortunate to have two – one at the University of Minnesota and one at Mayo Clinic. Seanne talked about the good research and collaboration that is done in Minnesota and the importance of National Institute of Health (NIH) funding to help fund critical research. Seanne thanked me for my support for NIH funding.
Midwest Assistance Program
The Midwest Assistance Program (MAP) is a nonprofit that assists rural and tribal communities in Minnesota with long term infrastructure development including water, wastewater, and solid waste. Representatives from MAP visited my office in Washington this week to talk about the federal programs that help support their work and the need for continued investment in our small and rural water systems.
National Hemophilia Foundation
Rebekah Solem, Nathan Schaefer (New York), Latrice Daniel (Minneapolis), Emily Ouellette (MOORHEAD), Brian Duval (Golden Valley), Aubree Douglas (St. Paul), Kyle Duval (Golden Valley), and Rachael Duval (Golden Valley)
Minnesotan representatives of the National Hemophilia Foundation stopped by my Washington office on Thursday to talk with my staff about bleeding disorders. Hemophilia is a genetic disorder where blood does not clot as it should. The advocates shared their stories and emphasized the need for quality health insurance given how expensive the clotting factor medication used to treat hemophilia is. For example, it costs an average of $250,000 to treat a person with severe hemophilia for one year. They also talked about the importance of research funding as there is currently no cure for hemophilia.
The Nordin Family of Ron, Arlen, Galen, Randy and Faye own and operate a 25,000 square foot powder coating and dye sublimation factory in Lancaster. They supply the Armstrong Commercial Ceiling and Wall Division with product. PoDCo products can be found in major airport terminals and churches across the country. My staff aide LeRoy Stumpf visited PoDCo this week to tour the facility and discuss the needs of manufacturers in rural Minnesota.
Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act
This week, we added another co-sponsor to H.R. 1379, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act. The addition of Rep. Mark Pocan brought our total up to 20 cosponsors. This legislation would ensure that health plans will cover medically necessary services needed for people born with congenital anomalies due to diseases such as Ectodermal Dysplasias.
Prepare for Flooding
Flooding will affect many parts of the seventh district this spring. If you expect your property will be damaged by flooding it is best to begin preparing now. There are many things to consider when your home is in the path of floodwaters. Cody Nelson with MPR News wrote a great article about what to consider when preparing for flood season.
Last Week’s Questionnaire Results
This Week in American History
On March 29, 1916, Eugene J. McCarthy was born in Watkins. He served in Congress for over two decades, as a representative from 1949 to 1959, and as senator from 1959 to 1971. In 1968, McCarthy challenged incumbent president Lyndon Johnson for the Democratic nomination. Running on an anti-Vietnam War platform and making a strong showing in the New Hampshire primary, he helped convince Johnson to drop out of the race. McCarthy, however, would ultimately lose the Democratic Party bid to another Minnesotan: Hubert H. Humphrey.
The Olson family (ROSEAU), Olson family (WILLMAR), Ramsrud (BAGLEY) family, and students from Osakis and Fertile-Beltrami high schools toured the U.S. Capitol Building with my office this week.