Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 10/12/2018
This week, the White House announced a plan to allow higher blends of ethanol to be sold year-round. I have been advocating for this change for quite some time because farmers in my district are well-suited to benefit from E15 being sold during the summer months. I hope this development will encourage Members of Congress to pass legislation to permanently fix this problem. October 12 is National Farmers Day, so be sure to acknowledge a farmer in your community for everything they do to provide us with an abundant food supply.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Year-Round E15 Sales
On Tuesday, the Administration announced that they directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow year-round sales of fuel blends containing 15 percent ethanol. Year-round sales of E15 will provide a needed boost to the ethanol industry and give corn farmers access to a broader segment of the domestic fuels market. This decision will provide some relief at a time when farmers are struggling with depressed commodity prices, adverse weather conditions, and an ongoing trade war. I’ve been a consistent advocate for E15. I founded the Congressional Biofuels Caucus to educate my Congressional colleagues and work with the Executive Branch on the benefits of promoting American-grown biofuels. Since that time, the Caucus and I pushed the Trump and Obama Administrations, met with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and cosponsored legislation to require the year-round sale of E15. I am glad to see this step in the right direction, however, this administrative action will likely get tied up in the courts, so passing legislation remains the most reliable avenue to finally getting this done.
Adams on Agriculture
I sat down with Mike Adams to talk about the Farm Bill and where we are in the process of getting a new bill passed this year. I told Mike that we are still working together closely, both at the member and the staff level, to close out different titles of the bill and get ourselves to a place where we can have the process completed in mid-November. It’s important to see this process through and get it finished in 2018, rather than let it continue into next year, given the challenges that farmers face both locally here in the Seventh and across the country.
Listen to my comments to Mike by clicking here.
Counting for Dollars: Census-Guided Financial Assistance to Rural Areas
This week, I co-hosted a briefing on the rural impact of the decennial census with Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) as part of the Congressional Rural Caucus. A new study announced that $31 billion in federal funding is guided to rural areas each year through census data. Dr. Andrew Reamer of the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, Howard Fienberg of The Census Project, and Arthur Scott of the National Association of Counties spoke about the impact this funding has on our rural communities. The data gathered by the 2020 census will determine Minnesota’s eligibility for grant and loan programs, define rural areas, and factor into dozens of federal, state, and local government decisions.
Uponor Hutchinson Facility Ribbon Cutting
This Thursday, Uponor North America hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and plant tour in celebration of its newest facility, a 237,000 square foot facility in Hutchinson. Uponor manufactures piping products that are used in everything from heating and cooling systems to drinking water and fire sprinkler systems. The event also highlighted Uponor’s commitment to Career and Technical Education. As part of this effort, Uponor is partnering with Hutchinson High School to provide students a hands-on experience with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment. I will continue to do everything I can to promote the type of good work that is happening in Hutchinson, so we can continue the great tradition of manufacturing and technical education in Minnesota.
Social Security Administration Announces 2018 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
This week, the Social Security Administration announced this year’s COLA to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), a 2.8% COLA was triggered. Beginning in December of 2018, this will directly increase benefits by the same percentage. For Social Security beneficiaries, the estimated average monthly benefit will rise from $1,422 to $1,461. The maximum Federal SSI monthly payment per individual will rise from $750 to $771.
Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
On Wednesday, my staff aide Jacki Anderson attended the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber Lunch with Leaders Event that featured educational leaders from the Willmar area as well as Minnesota State Colleges Chancellor Devinder Malhotra. The discussion was focused on the growing trends of encouraging education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and promoting hands-on training through public-private partnerships. Challenges remain to prepare youth for the workplace of tomorrow, but I look forward opportunities that will be available to them. I am working to help overcome some of the challenges we are facing today. One major issue is the insufficient workforce in rural Minnesota, which is why I have introduced the bipartisan Addressing Teacher Shortages Act of 2018 that would establish a grant program at the Department of Education through which school districts can apply for funding to recruit, retain, and support teachers.
North Star Electric Coop
The annual North Star Electric Coop meeting was held in Baudette this week. Board Chairman Steve Arnesen and General Manager Ann Ellis led the discussion and updated members on the condition and activities of the Coop. One of my staff aides attended the meeting and to provide an update on my work in Washington. I am happy to support coops like this because they provide affordable electricity for rural Minnesotans.
Day at Home Event in Alexandria
On Thursday, my staff attended the 8th Annual Day at Home Event in Alexandria, a mental health advocacy event. Mental health is something that impacts people of all ages and this conference emphasized the importance of addressing mental health with our youth and the ability to connect at the earliest possible moment. We recognize that there is a lot of work to do, and I will continue to advocate at the federal level for policies that will improve mental health services.
Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program
On Thursday, the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (CEP) celebrated 50 years of service. My staff aide Jacki Anderson stopped by the Alexandria Workforce Center open house celebration to thank the staff for their dedication to helping others. Rural Minnesota CEP is a private, non-profit partner in the Minnesota Workforce System with several locations and a variety of partnerships. I am grateful for the staff around the state that help community members develop new skills and find work opportunities.
Germany / Minnesota Energy Partnership
Two cities in the 7th District, Warren and Morris, have partnered with cities in Germany to exchange ideas for increasing energy efficiency in their communities. This week, Warren City Administrator Shannon Mortenson welcomed Carsten Peters, and energy advisor from the city of Arnsberg, Germany. Carsten and Shannon shared project details for cities to achieve Minnesota’s goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.
Click here to learn more about the partnership.
Southwest Area Transportation Partnership
On Friday, the Southwest Area Transportation Partnership (ATP) held their quarterly meeting in Willmar. My staff attended to get the latest updates on area transportation projects and announcements. Many of our infrastructure projects utilize federal funds that are passed down to the State of Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) to manage and distribute. MNDOT works together with the ATP to identify transportation priorities for future funding and closely follows project progress once they are funded.
A Musical Tribute to Norway
Kai Robert Johansen, a Norwegian trumpeter, and his musical group performed classic Norwegian music in Thief River Falls this week. They tour the state and perform their Norwegian tribute in Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Dalton, Dawson, Fargo and Bloomington. The concert included Kai Robert on trumpet, Ellen Karine Lanne on vocals, Jane Bracken on piano and Svingen Torader leading the button box accordion ensemble. During the show, Kai recognized the local Sons of Norway leaders with plaques honoring their service to the Norwegian-American community. Minnesota has one of the highest concentration of Norwegian descendants in the U.S. and this event offered a chance to hear the music of their ancestors.
National Farmers Day
October 12 is National Farmers Day. Please take time to thank a farmer in your community, and to reflect on the fact that the average farmer grows enough to feed 165 people per year. Farmers make up only 2 percent of the American population, yet they produce most of the food consumed by the rest of the nation. The number of farms has been steadily declining in recent years, causing Americans to be less connected to the people growing their food. It is important that we recognize the folks that provide us with a plentiful and affordable food supply. We must also encourage young people to take up the profession so that our farms continue to produce the goods we depend on for generations to come.
My Washington, D.C. office welcomed Minnesota native Kaelib TeeGarden this week. Kaelib is a senior at Luther College, studying Political Science and Economics. Kaelib is in D.C. for his fall semester, taking evening courses and gaining internship experience while working with us on Capitol Hill. I am happy to be able to give students interested in government an up-close view of the legislative process.
This Week in American History
Minnesota Lynx Point Guard Lindsay Whalen (HUTCHINSON)
On October 11, 2011, the Minnesota Lynx won their first WNBA Championship, beating the Atlanta Dream in three games. This was the first championship won by a professional sports team in Minnesota since the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 1991. Hutchinson native Lindsay Whalen was the team’s starting point guard during the 2011 season, leading the WNBA in assists with 5.9 per game.
What’s the Story?
Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative (MDFC) is collectively owned by approximately 500 sugarbeet shareholders and growers across Minnesota and the Dakotas. MDFC members grow 115,000 acres of sugarbeets which create the granulated sugar used in the production of many sweet goods. More than one-half of sugar produced in the United States, roughly 4 million tons, comes from sugarbeets. The entire sugarbeet is used in the sugar production process. Sugar and molasses are removed from the plant, and what remains can be processed into a nutrient-rich cattle feed. There are many sugarbeet farmers in the 7th District, and I will continue to support them as their Representative in Congress. The bag of Minn-Dak granulated sugar shown above can be found in my Washington, D.C office.
My friend, and Marshall City Council Member David Sturrock