Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/9/2019
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Customs and Border Protection Officers
It was great to be back home in Minnesota in August. As Congress returns to session, there are a number of issues to be addressed, including funding the government and energy policy reform. The Administration is expected to announce additional policies that impact the biofuels industry, and I will be working with members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus on this issue. I recently I got an update on this year’s wild rice harvest, which is an important crop for tribal nations in Minnesota. I also met with local stakeholders in Lancaster who are affected by reduced hours at ports of entry.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
The Agricultural News and Rural Television Content Protection Act
Western Minnesota is dependent on rural broadcasting networks to provide farmers, ranchers, and our agriculture community the critical information needed to maintain our rural economy. After hearing from constituents about the attacks on funding for programs like RFD-TV, I signed on to H.R. 2682, the Agricultural News and Rural Television Content Protection Act, which will reserve 1 percent of broadcasting bandwidth for rural and agricultural programming.
Rehabilitation of Multiemployer Pensions Act
In honor of Labor Day last weekend, I’d like to take a moment to honor the contributions that workers have made and continue to make for the productivity of our country. I continue to hear from laborers in the district about problems they are facing with their pensions and their potential insolvency. Earlier this year, I cosponsored and voted for the Rehabilitation of Multiemployer Pensions Act, which would protect pension plans that workers have spent years paying into.
Meeting with U.S. Customs and Rep. Bennie Thompson
In addition to our meeting with local stakeholders, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and I also met with U.S. Custom Officials in Lancaster and Roseau to encourage them to increase the hours that the Ports of Entry are open. Chairman Thompson and I both agree that changes need to occur. I will continue to work on this issue.
Wild Rice Harvest
I met with Buck Jourdain to talk about the wild rice harvest this year. Wild rice is an important crop for Native Americans and is a Minnesotan staple in many meals.
Red River Basin Commission
This week, the Red River Basin Commission held an "ex officio" board meeting in Moorhead. The group heard updates from federal and state legislators, an outlook from the National Weather Service, and learned about a variety of other Red River Basin activities over the past year. RRBC Executive Director Ted Preister shared information on the progress of their large-scale tile research project that's happening in North Dakota that will look at the impacts of drainage integration in the watersheds. I'm hopeful that this research will show how helpful modern drainage practices can be to water storage and drainage for agriculture operations and as one of the tools for flood and drought management practices in the Red River Valley.
Crookston Soybean Oil Extraction and Biodiesel Production Facility
Epitome Energy is working on a project for soybean oil and biodiesel production with the help of several partners. The Minnesota Legislature appropriated funding for a pilot scale plant with the University of Minnesota Crookston to do research and training for a large scale facility. Thom Petersen, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and Dennis Egan, the CEO and President of Epitome Energy, shared their enthusiasm for the project with the crowd.
Air Force Academy
The Air Force Academy was established on April 1, 1957 with the mission to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character; motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation. My Service Academy Coordinator Meg Louwagie toured the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO and met with Admission counselors. Each member of Congress is given the honor of nominating students from their district to attend the academies. My office will be holding four Service Academy Night open houses. These academy nights are a wonderful opportunity for students to meet with Academy representatives from Air Force Academy, West Point, Naval Academy, Merchant Marines as a well as the Coast Guard and learn more about the application and nomination process. If you have any questions about the Service Academy please contact Meg Louwagie at Meg.Louwagie@mail.house.gov
Our service academy nights are listed below:
September 16th, 2019 in Fargo
September 17th, 2019 in Bemidji
September 30th, 2019 in St. Cloud
October 21st, 2019 in Windom
Minnesota House of Representatives Bonding Committee in Thief River Falls
The House Bonding Committee toured some projects in northwestern Minnesota. Representative Mary Murphy, the Chair and her Committee heard about the need for a larger hangar for jets that fly freight in and out of Thief River Falls. The Committee also heard from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and a group of Kittson County residents about the need to repair the Lake Bronson dam. According to the DNR, it is the top dam repair job in the state. The committee also visited Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes, Browerville, Moorhead and Bemidji on this recent tour.
Good View Dairy
My staff aide LeRoy Stumpf toured the Hanson Family Farm high tech dairy operation. They milk 130 Ayrshire cows with the latest equipment from the Netherlands. The tour showed the computerized equipment that loads different kinds of feed, ground, and mixed and delivered it to the cows using sonar to the self-milking machine.
The Northwest Angle
My staff spent some time in Northwest Angle last week. The Angle is the farthest north part of the United States. Read about the history of the Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods here.
Trade Fact: I was one of 197 Members of Congress to vote against allowing China into the WTO on May 24, 2000 because I was concerned that China would not give U.S. companies fair access to their markets. I agree that China is a bad actor, but the short sightedness of some businesses looking to make a quick buck almost 20 years ago has put our country into the position we face today.
Last week I asked if you thought the Administration’s move to tighten the citizenship standard for children of U.S. military personnel serving overseas makes our country stronger? Here is what you said.
A reader from Todd County also shared that he served in the Minnesota National Guard on an overseas posting and he was outraged at the idea of making it harder for children of American citizens serving overseas to be recognized as a U.S. citizen.
Last Monday was Labor Day, a long weekend that marks the end of summer. Labor Day is observed in honor of the American Labor Movement, which is responsible for benefits such as the 40 hour work week, wages adjusted to inflation, employer offered benefits, and the power of collective bargaining on behalf of the working class. While people across the country celebrate the end of summer with BBQs and a last weekend on the lake, the United States government will spend over $3.1 billion dollars towards the interest on the federal debt. That money could be used to fund the Agriculture Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, including $381 million for ARS buildings and facilities.
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.
USDA Seeks Applications for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service is now soliciting applications for REAP grants. REAP helps farmers and small businesses reduce energy costs by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations. Wind, solar, hydroelectric, ocean, hydrogen, geothermal or renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters) projects may qualify for REAP grants. The deadlines to apply are October 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020.
2019 Best Community Colleges
Congratulations to Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Alexandria Technical and Community College, and Northland Community Colleges for being ranked in the Top 10 of 700 schools. Western Minnesota is home to many great high education institutions. I’m a strong supporter of career and technical education because of the value they provide to students, and their missions of focusing on training workers for the good paying jobs available in rural communities.
This Week in History
On September 3rd, 1783, The Treaty of Paris was signed, which ended both the Revolutionary War and, in theory, British control over what is now eastern Minnesota. However, British trading posts remained in the region until after the War of 1812