Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 10/5/2018
Dam 4 Trail in Beltrami Island State Forest
This week, I met with Agriculture Committee leaders from the House and Senate to continue work on the Farm Bill conference report. As we work through the bill, we have found many things that we agree on. While some sticking points remain, I am confident that we will produce a bipartisan report that can be voted on in early November. On Tuesday, I was happy to announce the opening of the Dam 4 Trail section within the Beltrami Island State Forest. I have been working with the community as well as state and federal officials to get this done. I am grateful for our success on this project because I know the new trail will expand access to public land and create recreational opportunities for Minnesotans. I also introduced legislation to address teacher shortages in rural and tribal school districts this week. The Addressing Teacher Shortages Act of 2018 will ensure that rural and tribal schools have the resources they need to recruit and retain qualified teachers.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Dam 4 Trail Opening in Beltrami Island State Forest
This week, I was pleased to meet with Jack Nelson of the Fourtown Grygla Sportsman Club and Myles Hogenson of the Roseau Lake of the Woods Sportsman Club to officially announce the opening of the Dam 4 Trail section that connects Morehouse Road and Elkwood Road within the Beltrami Island State Forest. This project has been underway for several years, and I am glad we were able to achieve this victory for the area sportsmen who use the forest’s trails.
Visit my website to view the press release on the opening.
Complete Streets Celebration in Glenwood
I was glad to join the City of Glenwood for their Complete Streets Celebration today. The City has worked hard over many years with public and private organizations to enhance and improve the city’s streets. Collective efforts like this can create positive ripple effects in a community and this success is something everyone can be proud of. I am glad federal funds could be utilized to help make this project happen.
Bipartisan Progress on the Farm Bill
I came back to Washington this week to keep progress going on the farm bill. Chairmen Roberts and Conaway, Ranking Member Stabenow and I pushed staff to have the credit, energy and trade titles closed as soon as possible. We will have more titles closed next week and then will focus on those where we remain further apart, such as the commodity, conservation, nutrition and forestry titles. We aim to close out the bill this month, and vote on it early in November. As for the impact on farmers, major programs like the Margin Protection Program for dairy and commodity programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Control will continue through the end of the calendar year. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program will also continue through the end of the year. Crop insurance and SNAP are permanently authorized and will continue without a new farm bill in place. There are some programs that will pause until we can get a bill done, which is one of the reasons we’re continuing to push forward.
2019 Health Insurance Rates
The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently announced final 2019 individual and small group health insurance rates. The rates, which determine how much consumers will pay for their health insurance across plans, mark the second year of stable or decreasing premiums in the individual market. According to the report, Blue Plus and Medica will offer plans in every county in the 7th District except for Meeker, Kittson, Roseau, and Lake of the Woods Counties, where only Medica plans will be available. The average Blue Plus premium will decrease by 27.7% and the average Medica premium will decrease by 12.4%. The Minnesota Department of Commerce also adds that rates in 2019 are 20% lower than they would be without Minnesota’s reinsurance program, which I organized federal support for in 2017. The 2019 open enrollment period begins on November 1, 2018 and ends on January 13, 2019.
As open enrollment approaches, enrollees can explore their options and learn about available tax credits on MNsure.org. This year, individuals earning up to $48,560 per year and families of four earning up to $100,400 per year may be eligible to save on their premiums.
Addressing Teacher Shortages Act of 2018
This week, I introduced the bipartisan Addressing Teacher Shortages Act of 2018 with Congressman Mooney (R-WV) to establish a federal grant program to help school districts recruit, retain, and support teachers. Under the legislation, 25 percent of funds will go directly to rural schools, 25 percent will help recruit teachers in high-need subject areas, and 5 percent will directly benefit Tribal schools. Particularly as fields like STEM and agriculture education increasingly influence the rural economy, it’s important that our schools are adequately staffed to prepare students as they enter the workforce.
I am proud that superintendents from the 7th District are confident in the legislation and I thank them for voicing their support.
“Teacher shortage has reached epidemic levels the past several years in Minnesota and nationwide as well,” said Minnesota Superintendent John Cselovski (Sleepy Eye Public Schools). “Finding qualified teacher candidates not just in special education but in all areas and all grade levels. It has been a daunting task to find quality faculty. I appreciate Representatives Petersen and Mooney for offering a solution for this educational crisis.”
"The teacher shortage in rural school districts is truly a crisis," said Minnesota Superintendent Scott Monson (Marshall Public Schools). “As we've known for many years, hard-working, talented, knowledgeable, and caring teachers are the backbone of any successful school or school district and finding those type of people continues to be a huge challenge. This bipartisan legislation provides opportunities for addressing the shortage with funding to support ideas, best practices, and innovation. I believe it will lead to an increased pool of teacher candidates for school districts to choose from."
Minnesota Air National Guard
Colonel Christopher Blomquist, Lt. Colonel Brian Winter, Lt. Colonel Nathan Aysta
On Tuesday, my staff aide Zach Martin sat down with the Commander of the 179th Fighter Squadron and Commander of the 148th Fighter Wing within the Minnesota Air National Guard. Based in Duluth, the 148th Fighter Wing encompasses over 1,000 Airmen and 22 Block 50 F-16 aircraft. In 1995, I nominated Nathan Aysta to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Since then, he served on active duty for 11 years with more than 3,000 flying hours in the F-16 and flown over 70 combat sorties. This year, he led the 179th Fighter Squadron for flying missions in the Middle East. I remain impressed with the expertise and commitment shown by these officers, and their service makes Minnesota proud.
Advocating for Biodiesel
I joined a letter which urges House Leadership to provide a multi-year extension of the biodiesel tax incentive, an important policy which boosts our rural economy. Biodiesel adds 63 cents of value to every bushel of soybeans on the front end and lowers fuel prices that truck drivers pay at the back end. During a time when farm income is reaching a decade low, the value added by biodiesel is becoming even more crucial to sustaining major agriculture sectors.
Combatting the Opioid Crisis
This week, USDA launched an interactive data tool to help community leaders address the opioid epidemic. The Community Assessment Tool integrates substance abuse rates with community demographics to help determine which local actions will combat addiction most effectively. The Community Assessment tool is free to use and open to the public.
National Eating Disorders Association
Rebekah Solem, Mike Marjama (MENAHGA, NEDA Ambassador), Claire Mysko (CEO)
On Tuesday, my staff aide Rebekah Solem met with representatives of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), including CEO Claire Mysko and former Seattle Mariners catcher and NEDA Ambassador Mike Marjama, who owns a family business in Menahga. Mike shared his personal story and emphasized that eating disorders can affect anyone, male or female. In fact, the group stated that more than 30 million Americans will suffer at some point in their lives from an eating disorder. NEDA focuses on supporting these individuals and their families, raising awareness about eating disorders, and funding research. Among other programs, the nonprofit has developed “The Body Project” program for women and girls and is working on a program for boys and men, called “More than Muscles.”
Urging FDA to Reclassify Pulse Crops as “Grain”
I signed a letter to the Food and Drug Administration urging them to reclassify specific pulse crops as “grain” to qualify for exemptions from certain regulations required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA). FDA currently classifies pulse crops like dry peas, lentils, chick peas and dry beans as “fruits or vegetables,” requiring producers of the crops to comply with the human and animal food rules mandated by FSMA. The costs of compliance to these rules are estimated to range from $57,000 to $127,000.
A common-sense reading of the statute shows that pulse crops more accurately fit the description of “grains” as defined by FMSA, and that the label of “fruits and vegetables” does not represent an accurate description of pulse crops, nor does it protect public health in the intent of FMSA. FDA should hear this bipartisan call for the reclassification of pulse crops to support producers and ensure the effective application of FSMA.
Click here to read the National Grain and Feed Association’s statement on this bipartisan effort.
National Association of Trailer Manufacturers
Tary Krahenbuhl (MO) and Pat Jennissen (Felling Trailers, SAUK CENTRE)
Minnesotan members of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers visited my office this week to discuss the Administration’s implementation of steel tariffs. Businesses across the 7th District rely on a consistent source of materials to create world-class products, and I am concerned that these tariffs are disrupting important supply chains.
Highway 2 West Manufacturers Association
Bemidji State University hosted the Highway 2 West Manufacturers Meeting at the School of Technology, Art and Design. The dean of the school, Dr. Jim Barta, introduced several of the faculty of the manufacturing programs offered both on and off campus. Dr. Kelly LaVenture talked about the human factor in manufacturing and presented a roadmap to employee engagement for increased profitability and employee satisfaction. Manufacturing is very important to the 7th District, and I support efforts to educate communities about the many career paths the industry offers.
League of Minnesota Cities
On Wednesday, my staff aide Jacki Anderson attended the League of Minnesota Cities annual regional meeting in Fergus Falls. Topics on the agenda included housing, broadband, daycare and workforce. I am encouraged to hear about the innovative ways they are addressing community issues with projects like Ottertail County’s Rural Rebound Initiative. I have worked on bills and initiatives that create new pathways for communities to address these issues. I will continue to identify and support initiatives at the federal level that will help advance solutions in the 7th District.
National Manufacturing Day
October 5th is National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). It is a day to celebrate the American manufacturing industry and raise awareness of the many career opportunities modern manufacturing has to offer. Manufacturing jobs today are high tech, high skilled and well-paying, yet many businesses struggle to recruit the next generation of employees. MFG Day events help introduce people to career paths in manufacturing with hopes of inspiring them to take part in this rapidly growing industry.
Click here to learn how you can support manufacturers in your community
National Cooperative Month
October is National Cooperative Month. This year’s theme is “Cooperatives – See the Future,” which cooperatives across the nation will be using to shape the month’s activities and outreach. There are 2,106 agriculture co-ops in the U.S. that work to provide opportunity and stability for rural America. Cooperatives are major employers in the U.S., employing nearly 2 million people. They provide crucial services for communities including child care, financial services, food assistance, insurance, housing and utility maintenance.
Visit Coopmonth.coop to learn more about National Cooperative Month events and initiatives.
AGRI Milk Cooler Grants Available
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that its Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Milk Cooler Grants are now available. The MDA will award up to $22,500 to eligible schools and Early Care and Education organizations to increase the use of Minnesota dairy by adding milk coolers to their nutrition programs. Eligible expenses include the cost of the milk cooler and associated installation expenses. Applications for milk cooler grants must be submitted by 4:00p.m. CST on November 16, 2018.
Click here to find more information and to apply.
This Week in American History
Old Crossing Treaty Memorial in Huot
On October 2, 1863, the Red Lake and Pembina bands of Ojibwe signed the Old Crossing treaty, ceding to the US government three million acres of land in the Red River Valley. Senator Alexander Ramsey and Indian Agent Ashley C. Morrill represented the United States; Moose Dung, Crooked Arm, Little Rock, and Little Shell are among the Ojibwe signers. The treaty is named for a ford in the Red Lake River, near Red Lake Falls. A monument would be dedicated at the treaty site, in Huot, in 1933.
What’s the Story?
Jerome Increase Case founded Racine Threshing Machine Works (later named J.I. Case) in 1842. In 1902, McCormick, Deering and three smaller brands of farm implement manufacturers merged to become the International Harvester Company. The two companies went on to dramatically change the agriculture industry with their innovative machinery. In 1985, International Harvester united with agricultural equipment manufacturer J.I. Case to become Case IH. Case IH has grown a network of more than 4,900 dealers and distributers in over 160 countries. One of their factories is in Benson, where they produce crop control equipment like sprayers and applicators. I display several models of their machinery, and this Case IH hat, in my office in Washington, D.C.
Rylinn Pretzel, Richard Jannusch, Lona Oltmann, Karen Jannusch and William Oltmann visited Washington, D.C. from Glencoe this week