Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 7/20/2020
My staff aide Bob Ness (6’3”) showing the progress of local corn crops over the past week
I spoke with the Lake of the Woods County Board of Commissioners about what I’ve been doing to help the Northwest Angle with their border issues. Since the U.S. and Canada closed their borders due to the pandemic, Angle tourists and property owners have been unable to travel to the Northwest Angle by land due to Canadian border restrictions. This has been devastating to their economy which relies on tourism and fishing.
The House Appropriations Committee approved my amendment to extend the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program for another year. The program was set to expire year at a time when many hemp farmers in Minnesota would be harvesting. This extension will make sure the current rules stay in place during this busy season.
I introduced bipartisan legislation to provide American businesses with another year of relief from Section 301 tariffs. Minnesota manufacturers are already dealing with all sorts of disruptions, and these exclusions from the China tariffs will provide flexibility to keep them competitive with foreign companies.
This past week, we lost Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. John Lewis was not only a civil rights legend for the country, and an icon in Congress, he was my friend. It has been an honor to know and serve with him. I will miss John greatly and I join the country in mourning this loss.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
House Appropriations Committee Includes Hemp Pilot Program Extension in FY21 Funding Bill
The House Committee on Appropriations approved my amendment to extend the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program that was included in the 2014 Farm Bill through September 30, 2021. Hemp farmers in Minnesota planted this year’s crop under the pilot program rules that are currently set to expire September 30th of 2020. Without an extension, producers and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture would have to adopt the new rules set by USDA at a time when many farmers are harvesting their crop. I am happy to see the Appropriators include this common-sense flexibility in the bill they moved out of committee.
USDA Approves Minnesota Hemp Plan
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the State of Minnesota’s plan for the production and regulation of industrial hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill recognized industrial hemp as an agricultural crop and asked states to submit a management plan to USDA for approval. I supported the inclusion of hemp provisions in the last farm bill and it is good to see Minnesota’s management plan approved.
Northwest Angle Border Issues
Previous visits to the Northwest Angle
When countries started closing borders due to the coronavirus pandemic, Minnesota’s Northwest Angle became locked out from the rest of the United States. The only way to access the Angle by land from the U.S. is by going through Canada. This has caused issues with the Northwest Angle’s economy, which relies heavily on tourism, fishing, and folks that summer at their cabins there.
My staff and I have been making countless calls and sending letters to all the stakeholders involved to get folks access to the Angle, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Canadian Border Service Agency, the Canadian Cabinet Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness – who has the responsibility over the Canadian Border Service Agency – and even the White House, in hopes that that we can jointly find a solution.
I discussed my work on this issue with the Lake of the Woods County Board of Commissioners, including a proposal I’ve made to Canadian officials to allow property owners to travel to the Northwest Angle, while still adhering to travel restrictions between the United States and Canada.
On the water in the Angle
Supporting Rural Healthcare during COVID-19
Rural healthcare was already in crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the situation is only getting worse. I joined a bicameral, bipartisan effort encouraging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to quickly provide relief to rural healthcare providers. My colleagues and I are concerned that rural providers will not receive sufficient amounts of the remaining Provider Relief Fund money, and are urging the Administration to make sure they get the funds they need.
Extending China Tariff Exclusions
Alongside my colleague Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), I introduced bipartisan legislation to provide American businesses another year of relief from Section 301 tariffs by extending product exclusions currently in effect. Minnesota manufacturers have been weathering all sorts of disruptions to their business over the past year. We need to do all we can to offer them some flexibility to stay competitive with foreign manufacturers. Renewing these exclusions will put manufacturers in a better position to continue to recover and rebuild by extending needed tariff relief.
Agricultural Security Risk Review Act
I cosponsored the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act that would permanently add the Secretary of Agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The CFIUS reviews foreign acquisitions that could have an impact on our national security, and I believe the Agriculture Secretary should be consulted before significant foreign investments are approved in our food and agriculture sector. Strong domestic food production reduces our reliance on other countries to feed our citizens and our military, and it is important that the Agriculture Secretary is at the table when our leaders review the potential risks of foreign investment.
School districts in Western Minnesota and across the country or working on plans for how to educate our children this fall.
During a series of events on educational issues, President Trump said that “We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open,” and threatened that the Administration
Who do you think should make the decision about how to reopen and best educate students during this difficult time?
Do you think the federal government should withhold funding from school districts that don’t fully reopen in the fall?
Do you feel that the coronavirus has been contained adequately to allow K-12 schools nationwide to safely reopen and stay open for the 2020-2021 school year?
Stepping Up in the 7th
Socially distanced audience
Due to the pandemic, the Historic Holmes Theatre has not been able to offer shows to the public. On Thursday night they changed it up a bit and offered music in the park for a free will donation. The band, The Tribute Kings, played for no charge and gave all proceeds from donations and t-shirt sales to the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center. It’s great to see folks continuing to support local arts during this time.
The Tribute Kings playing in the pavilion
Congressional Art Competition People’s Choice Winner
“Chickadee” by Lauren Ammermann (RENVILLE)
I would like to once again congratulate Lauren Ammermann (RENVILLE) for acrylic painting “Chickadee” being named the People’s Choice winner for the Congressional Art Competition.
Lauren’s artwork reminds me of my time in the Minnesota Senate. Back in 1980, I authored the “chickadee checkoff” legislation to establish a Minnesota tax checkoff that allows you to contribute to the Nongame Wildlife program. This was highlighted on a segment of “The Prairie Sportsman” show on Pioneer Public TV, titled Carrol's Wild Life.
1981 newspaper clipping from the Winona Daily News about the passing of the chickadee checkoff
This Week in History
Hjemkomst on the water. Photo by Rose Asp. From the Rose Asp Collection, Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
On July 19, 1982, relatives and friends of Robert Asp (MOORHEAD) sailed his replica Viking ship Hjemkomst into the harbor of Bergen, Norway, completing a journey from the Great Lakes. The ship was later installed in the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead.
Views from the 7th
Photo taken by staff aide Meg Louwagie