Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 10/11


Dear Friends,

The U.S. federal government shutdown continues into its second week. I am committed to ending the shutdown as soon as possible but so far House Leaders have not brought serious proposals to the floor for a vote, instead choosing a piecemeal approach that will not get the government running again. I've kept my offices open to help answer questions from constituents who are concerned about the shutdown, federal employees in the 7th who are facing furlough days, farmers, educators, and those with questions about  housing, transportation, education and food safety.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson

Minnesota 7th District

Farm Bill Update

Today the House took the first steps to begin conference discussions. Conferees will likely be named over the weekend.

 Military Matters

New Resources Available for Veterans

A lot of positive work is being done at the state level in Minnesota to support our veterans. To share information about the new resources available for vets, staff from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is touring cities throughout the state. On Tuesday there was a good turnout of veterans at the Marshall visit, which coincided with a Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) event called "Veteran's StandDown" at the YMCA. The StandDown concept comes from the Vietnam War, and it describes a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. The Lyon County CVSO was keynote speaker, and the Color Guard was provided by American Legion Post #113, Marshall. The 2nd Annual Veteran's StandDown is already planned for next year; for more information contact Lyon County VSO at 507-537-6729 or email

Minnesota Soldiers Deployed

We are proud of our 7th District soldiers who will be deployed with the Minnesota National Guard's 114th Transportation Company from Chisholm. A hundred and forty Minnesotans will be deployed on October 13th, and they will leave for a one-year deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The soldiers come from 106 communities throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Kansas. This is the Company's second trip to Afghanistan in the past four years.

The soldiers will head to Fort Hood, Texas where they will spend two months training. The soldiers will then leave for Bagram, Afghanistan for 10 months. The Company's mission is to escort supplies and to assist the eventual drawdown in Afghanistan. We wish the soldiers and their families well during this 10-month tour.

USDA Services Impacted by Shutdown

I have been hearing from constituents concerned about the impact of the shutdown on local farmers and other rural residents. With few exceptions, most United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) activities are shut down or significantly reduced. Local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices are closed, and most USDA website information is blocked. It has been very frustrating for constituents who use these services. 

According to USDA, activities related to law enforcement, the protection of life and property, or that are financed through available funding (such as through mandatory appropriations or user fees) will continue during the shutdown. For example, inspection of meat, poultry and processed eggs will continue and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) website is accessible: USDA activities that will not be continued during a government shutdown include farm loans and other farm payments (including direct payments, market assistance loans, and disaster assistance programs) and provision of conservation technical and financial assistance (such as CRP, EQIP, and easement programs).

If you have questions about what USDA activities are shut down, please feel free to contact my office.

U.S. Postal Service Update

Due to the government shutdown on October 1st, the United States Postal Service defaulted on its $5.6 billion payment to the retiree health benefits fund.  This underscores the need for Congress to act on providing the USPS the liquidity and freedom it needs to become a self-sustaining business once again.  While the Postal Service faces numerous problems contributing to its financial shortcomings, there are numerous pieces of legislation in Congress, including the Postal Service Protection Act (H.R. 630) and the Protect Overnight Delivery Act (H.R. 2459), which I have cosponsored to ensure the USPS has the tools they need to run a successful business. I have also recently cosponsored numerous pieces of legislation to ensure that the USPS continues to provide the same level of service that rural Minnesota and America has come to rely on.

Growth Energy

I met with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis to discuss ethanol issues. Tom has served as an agriculture policy advisor for several Members of Congress and served as president for the National Farmers Union before joining Growth Energy in 1998.

West Central Labor Force Development Council

On Monday, the West Central Minnesota Labor Force Development Council (LFDC) was hosted in Fergus Falls by the West Central Initiative (WCI). The Council is a voluntary association composed of leaders from business and industry, K-12 education, colleges and universities, economic development, and government organizations that have a critical interest in assuring that the region has a sufficient supply of skilled labor to facilitate long term economic vitality. The mission of the council is to help the workforce meet the needs of employers in the region. 

Monday’s meeting centered on reports from some of the 11 grant recipients that were awarded $170,000 in the annual Competitive Workforce Grant round from WCI. Tri-State Manufacturing also reported on a video they produced on how manufacturing jobs are high paying and in high demand.  The video will be distributed to high schools and other outlets in the region. Click here to watch the video.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Rod Oltz and Jan Mueller at the Willmar Alzheimer’s Walk

More than 475 residents throughout West Central Minnesota joined the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 5th in Willmar to support research that may find a cure to the brain disease. Last year the walk raised $64,000 and ranked number three in the country in funds raised with under 100,000 people participating. This year the walk in Willmar raised a remarkable $81,000, which may make the city's walk the highest ranked in the nation. In addition to walking, participants learned about Alzheimer’s disease and the ways to advocate for the Association’s role in conducting research and clinical trials. Alzheimer’s disease is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death, and as baby boomers come of age the disease will become more prevalent. It is clear walks like this one are increasingly important, and we thank all the participants for their dedication to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.

National 4-H Week

Counties across the 7th District celebrated National 4-H Week (October 6th to 12th) and all the positive benefits of the 4-H youth development program. More than 6 million young people in the United States participate in 4-H, making it one of the largest youth development organizations in the world. The goal of 4-H is to ultimately prepare youth participants to be able to achieve success later in life. By teaching them the skills needed to succeed, like working to improve their community, excel in school and sciences, and make healthy choices, 4-H is also one of the most successful youth organizations around. This week we celebrate the achievements of the 4-H program.

Saturday, October 12th is World Hospice Day in honor of the people who provide compassionate care for those confronting life-limiting illness. Hospice care includes physical, emotional, and spiritual support tailored specifically to the patient’s needs. Medical experts also provide hospice care for the friends and family of the patient to create a caring environment for everyone. I am a cosponsor of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R.1339) because we must continue to support those who provide this important service.

Tribute to Senator Rod Grams

A friend and colleague, Minnesota Senator Rod Grams, passed away Tuesday night after losing his fight against colon cancer. Rod Grams and I came to Washington at roughly the same time.  He served on the Banking and Finance committees while I served on the Agriculture and Government Operations committees.

I was struck by his dedication to serving others even in remote parts of the state.  I remember during the 1997 floods in the Red River Valley, Senator Grams quickly threw himself into the East Grand Forks flood recovery, mud and all.

Senator Grams was a distinguished public servant and a true model of what serving means.  He knew when to hold the line and when to work with others.  He is a true example of leadership. Senator Grams will be missed in Minnesota politics and I extend my deepest sympathies to the Senator's family and friends.

CAN/AM Border Trade Alliance

Baudette-Rainy River Bridge.JPG

Baudette Rainy River International Bridge

The CAN/AM Border Trade Alliance conference was held this week in Washington. The CAN/AM BTA is a broad based, bi-national grassroots organization comprised of business, private and public sectors involved in US/Canada trade and visitation. Among those attending this conference was Wayne Easter, Canadian Member of Parliament for Malpeque, who stopped by my office after the meetings to discuss border security, tourism and agriculture issues facing our two countries.

This Week in American History

This weekend the Navy will celebrate its 238th birthday. On October 13th, 1775, the Continental Congress voted to send out two of its first sailing vessels to intercept British cargo ships that were bringing supplies to the British army in America. This legislation is considered the birth certificate of the U.S. Navy. The Navy would grow quickly when Congress established a Naval Committee tasked with building a fleet of ships. In its early days during the Revolutionary War, the Navy used over fifty vessels manned with different tasks. Happy birthday to the Navy!


Courtney Erickson (BARNESVILLE)

2013 Congressional Art Competition