Rep. Peterson's Newsletter and Questionnaire 8/10/2020
Crop duster flying over a field in Western Minnesota
Farmfest was a bit different this year, and provided virtual events for attendees to learn, share, and discuss important issues in agriculture. I encourage folks to check out Farmfest’s archived event videos, which include informational sessions and recognition for Women in Ag and Minnesota Farm Families.
I led a bipartisan Congressional Biofuels Caucus letter in support of the same dedicated relief for biofuels producers in the upcoming coronavirus relief package that I had negotiated for the HEROES Act in the House. By providing this assistance, rural America will continue to reap long-term benefits of a strong biofuels economy.
The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) celebrates 15 years this week. I helped enact the bill that established the RFS in 2005 and its expansion in 2007. The bipartisan program promotes the use of biofuels in transportation fuel production and theancrease in biofuels usage creates greater demand for corn, soybeans, and other crops, while making our transportation more environmentally friendly.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Requesting Direct Aid for Ethanol and Biodiesel Producers
My fellow Congressional Biofuels Caucus co-chairs and I led a bipartisan letter with 31 members of Congress requesting House and Senate leadership include additional resources for the biofuels sector in the next piece of coronavirus relief legislation.Biofuels production is a major piece of the rural economy, and I had negotiated for this much-needed assistance to be included in the HEROES Act in the House.
This year’s Farmfest looked a bit different than previous years, but the 3-day event continued to shine a spotlight on important issues in agriculture throughout Minnesota, the United States and the rest of the world. The series of virtual events brought national and local agriculture experts together to discuss the economics of farming and other important issues like trade and retirement planning. Events highlighted women in agriculture and others honored exceptional farmers. Farmfest honored Sarah Kuschel from Sebeka as the first Woman Farmer of the Year, and the University of Minnesota honored their 2020 Farm Families of the Year.
15th Anniversary of the Renewable Fuel Standard
The 15th anniversary of the Renewable Fuels Standard was on August 8th. I helped enact the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that established the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) under a Republican House of Representatives and then helped build on that success by expanding the RFS in a Democratic House in 2007. That goes to show that support for biofuels is a bipartisan issue. I thank the ethanol and biodiesel industries as well as America’s corn and soybean farmers for putting their vision into action.
The Renewable Fuel Standard requires transportation fuels in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The nation has filled that requirement, in large part, through the production of corn and soybean derived ethanol and biodiesel. The Renewable Fuel Standard supports our farmers by increasing demand for their crops through the production of clean-burning fuels.
H.R. 7642, the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act
I cosponsored H.R. 7632, the CERTS Act to provide much needed emergency support to our transportation sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill will provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding, in the form of grants and other economic assistance, to motorcoach operators, school bus companies, U.S. flag passenger vessel operators, and other U.S. transportation service providers. The legislation also provides funding for businesses to keep their employees on their payroll, instead of being forced to lay off workers. Our transportation industry is a crucial part of our emergency response to this pandemic and our path to economic recovery. I will to continue to work with my colleagues to see this necessary assistance move forward.
H.R. 4104, Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
The Minnesota Twins wore replica St. Paul Gophers throwback jerseys in 2019
I cosponsored H.R. 4104, the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. This bipartisan bill would direct the Treasury to mint coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Negro National League, a professional baseball league that was formed in response to African-American players being banned from baseball’s major leagues. The coins would be minted at no cost to taxpayers and proceeds from the sales would be paid to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for educational exhibits and outreach programs.
Though Minnesota did not have a team in the Negro National League, the St. Paul Gophers were a Black, semi-professional baseball team whose 1907 founding predates the Negro leagues. The St. Paul Gophers barnstormed all across Minnesota and the upper Midwest. In 1909, they won the “World Colored Championship” against the Chicago-based Leland Giants.
Last week, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator said, "What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It's into the rural as equal urban areas." Without a national testing strategy, we have been unable to adequately track and slow the spread of the disease through the country. I asked you what you thought about our current federal coronavirus strategy. Here’s what you said:
Do you think the economy would be in a better shape if we had a coordinated nationwide testing program to identify and isolate the disease?
Assuming there is no shift in strategy to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, do you think the economy can recover before a vaccine is found and distributed to people?
Do you think the full weight of the federal government has been directed to fighting the Coronavirus?
Praire PROducers owners, brothers Tim and Paul Seehusen (OLIVIA)
Priaire PROducers is Minnesota’s first hemp fiber processor since World War Two. Owned by brothers Paul and Tim Seehusen, the company contracts with local growers to produce industrial hemp and have launched a podcast to educate folks on the versatility of industrial hemp. My staff aide Grant Herfindahl visited Prairie PROducers’s for their first Field Day event. Grant was joined by other hemp industry experts at the informational event. I have been a big supporter of industrial hemp and appreciate the Seehusen brothers for their work promoting the crop in Renville County and throughout Minnesota.
Rural America Counts
Rural counties in Minnesota are currently underrepresented in the 2020 Census. This underrepresentation would mean that for the next 10 years, federal funding will get sent to urban areas that would have otherwise gone to things like rural schools, rural hospitals and rural broadband. Complete your census now.
Do you think the Census should continue with the planned Census extension for a few months to ensure that rural voices are fairly represented in the 2020 Census?
COVID-19 Testing in MN
There are coronavirus testing locations throughout the state. Those seeking the test are encouraged to work with their insurance carrier to ensure they are properly billed when receiving a test.
Mental Health Resources
Many folks have been struggling with their mental health while social distancing restrictions have been in place. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please use these resources.
- Minnesota Rural Stress Hotline
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Veterans Crisis Line
- Vet Centers – Call your nearest Vet Center or the Vet Center Call Center at 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387)
Technology Grant Opportunity
ConnectedMN is offering funding to 501(c)3 nonprofits for projects designed to ensure K-12 students in high-need and underserved communities have computing devices, internet access, and educational support. The maximum grant size is $150,000 and must be spent within 12 months. Applications are due by 3:00 PM on Tuesday, September 1st, 2020.
This Week in History
On August 5th, 2012, four-year-old Bobby Tufts was elected mayor of Dorset township – a symbolic rather than a practical office.
Mayor Bobby Tufts