Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 11/18/2016

November 18, 2016

Lake Ripley in Meeker County

Dear Friends,

I was pleased to welcome groups from all over Minnesota to Washington this week, including 11th and 12th graders from Fertile-Beltrami High School. I also welcomed the National Cotton Council, American Crystal Sugar, Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and Potlatch to discuss issues important to farmers and producers across the country. This week also brought the conclusion to the Agriculture Committee’s review of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), where we heard about the success of the program and the importance of it remaining part of the Farm Bill. Additionally, I’m happy to announce that the Department of Energy has issued a presidential permit for the Great Northern Transmission Line project in northern Minnesota, bringing new jobs and new energy to our district. As we prepare for our first winter storm of the year, I hope you utilize the information below to help stay safe.

Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Close Up

This week, I welcomed students from Fertile-Beltrami High School to the Capitol. We discussed happenings in Congress, politics and even a little hunting. The students came to Washington for the week to tour the nation’s capital, meet with elected officials and travel to Williamsburg, Va. I always enjoy the opportunity to meet students from Minnesota and am thrilled to see their passion on full display.

Portrait Unveiling of Chairman Kline

I was happy to attend the portrait unveiling of Minnesota’s Second District Congressman John Kline this week. Kline is retiring at the end of this Congress after serving his district since 2003. He has been Chairman of the Committee on Education and the Workforce since 2011. John spent a long portion of his career in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked as a military aide in both the Carter and Reagan administrations. The House of Representatives and the people of Minnesota have been fortunate to have such a strong leader working for them over the years. I am sad to see him go, but I wish John the best of luck in his retirement.


Robert Harris, Jane Alonso, and Mark Benson

On Tuesday, representatives from Potlatch, a leader in sustainable forestry with a sawmill operation in Bemidji, visited my office to discuss issues relating to biomass. The EPA has failed to clarify whether using woody biomass for energy production would be considered a carbon neutral input, despite the fact that it is a renewable energy source that promotes healthy forestry practices. I will continue to push for clarification on this issue and will support our foresters in the new Congress.

National Cotton Council

On Wednesday, I met with Shane Stephens (left), the Chairman of the National Cotton Council, and Gary Adams (right), the President and CEO. We discussed plans for the next farm bill as the current cotton program is not providing meaningful assistance to growers in this time of low commodity prices. It will be important to have working farm policies for farmers across the country in order to get the next farm bill passed, and I hope that a solution can be found for cotton growers.

Great Northern Transmission Line Update

I am pleased to report that on Wednesday the Department of Energy issued a presidential permit for the Great Northern Transmission Line project in northern Minnesota. I have been a strong supporter of the transmission line and have worked with Congressman Nolan, as well as Senators Klobuchar and Franken, to encourage the federal agency to permit the project so winter construction can begin. The 224 miles of power line will bring clean hydropower from Manitoba for Minnesota consumer use and will lower electricity bills. Now that the permit has been issued, Minnesota Power can begin construction and create jobs.

You can read more about the project in my press release.

Sugar Beet Growers

Representatives from the American Crystal Sugar Company and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association came by my office on Friday. They talked with my staff about the challenges facing the sugar industry due to low sugar prices brought about by unlawful trade practices by Mexico. It’s important to our economy that our trading partners honor their obligations and that our trade officials hold them accountable. I will press our trade representatives to stand strong at the negotiating table on behalf of American sugar producers.

National Nurses United

Minnesota representatives of National Nurses United met with my staff this week to discuss RN staffing strategies in the district and around the country. I appreciate the perspective of Minnesota’s nurses on how best to improve patient outcomes and secure nurse retention in rural areas.

Agricultural Utilization Research Institute

Products developed by AURI "Innovator of the Year;” Kay's Naturals of Clara City, MN; Ben Swanson, AURI Food Scientist

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) is an organization that fosters long-term economic growth by helping individuals and private companies develop and commercialize value-added agricultural products. On Thursday, AURI staff and board members held a “Minnesota Food Innovations” conference in Granite Falls to highlight initiatives in new products that Minnesota entrepreneurs are developing to meet the changing tastes of American consumers.

AURI’s annual “Innovator of the Year” award went to Kay’s Naturals, a Clara City firm that produces healthy snack foods for people who are trying to lose weight, suffer from diabetes, or just want healthier food choices. This is AURI’s highest honor and has been awarded since 2002. It is given to an AURI client company that has made the most impact in product innovation, uniqueness, and commercialization potential.

AURI has laboratories and offices in Crookston, Marshall, Waseca, and St. Paul.

MREA Annual Convention

Dr. Chris Mills, LeRoy Stumpf, Jackie and Bruce Chwialkowski

The Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) was started in the 1980s to represent the needs of rural Minnesota schools. Today, MREA has some 220 rural school district members. At the recent annual convention there were some 400 school board members, superintendents, principals and teachers discussing and learning how to make Minnesota’s schools better.

At an evening program, MREA honored the “2016 Educators of Excellence.” Of them, Brenda Whitehead from Murray County Central School represented southern Minnesota, Jamie Madson from Rockford Area Schools represented south central Minnesota, Chris Dobis from Pierz Public Schools represented north central, and Jackie Chwialkowski from Stephen Argyle Central Schools represented northern Minnesota.

MREA also honored State Senator LeRoy Stumpf with the “2016 Distinguished Service Award” for his contributions to the betterment of rural education in Minnesota.

Northwest Minnesota Foundation Housing Summit

Karen White, Vice President of Programs, addressing the assembly

The Northwest Minnesota Foundation's Impact 20/20 subcommittee held a Housing Summit on Wednesday at the University of Minnesota in Crookston. The primary focus of the Summit was to discuss ways communities across the region can address housing shortages, primarily to workforce housing. The existing housing shortage has limited the growth of business and industry.

My staff aide Toni Merdan attended the Summit and was pleased to see a large group of individuals from across the region learning from housing developers and agency resources available to communities. For more information on the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, visit

Hunger Solutions Minnesota

My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with Minnesota Hunger Solutions Executive Director Colleen Moriarty to talk about the importance of nutrition programs. In particular, they discussed the importance of keeping the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the farm bill. The hunger relief organization was formed in 2001 when the Minnesota Food Bank Network and the Minnesota Food Shelf Association combined in order to promote collaboration and to increase capacity while being more efficient. Update

Agriculture Committee Completes SNAP Review

The Agriculture Committee on Wednesday concluded its review of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with a full Committee hearing, “Past, Present and Future of SNAP: Opportunities for Improving Access to Food.” In some areas of the country, like the Seventh District, grocery stores are few and far between and internet service can be unreliable. I raised my concerns about the fairness of online shopping for those living in these areas and encouraged the witnesses to review options for serving these areas.

The hearing was the Committee’s eighteenth meeting to review SNAP. We have covered a lot of ground but the overwhelming theme of the testimony has shown that, while there are some areas for improvement, SNAP is working. We’ve also heard testimony opposing efforts to block grant SNAP and on the importance of keeping SNAP within the farm bill. I urged my colleagues to keep this in mind as we start work on the farm bill next year.

Rural Calls

This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act (H.R. 2566), legislation to address call quality and reliability standards in rural areas. The Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act requires intermediary providers to register with the FCC and to meet quality standards ensuring rural Americans can rely on phone service. It also prohibits providers from using any intermediary routing services not registered with the FCC. The legislation heads to the U.S. Senate for final consideration.


Winter Hazard Awareness Week

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in partnership with the National Weather Service and other state, federal and non-profit agencies is promoting Winter Hazard Awareness Week from November 14-18. For information on how to prepare your family for hazardous winter conditions, visit their website or check out their 2016 Fact Sheet.

National Rural Health Day

This week, communities across the country celebrated National Rural Health Day. Rural hospitals, clinics, and providers are crucial, not only in meeting the unique healthcare needs of rural America but also in providing jobs and benefits within the communities they serve. To honor the occasion, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) will host a series of web sessions regarding the future of rural healthcare.

American Education Week

This week is also American Education week, and we’re proud to thank those who dedicate their time to building our children’s future. I encourage you to take the time this week to reach out and thank those educators who made a difference in your life. To learn more about American Education week, you can visit their website.

Minnesotans Give Back

The Corporation for National and Community Service published their report listing the Top 10 States and Cities for volunteering, and I’m proud to announce that Minneapolis-St. Paul was the number 1 large city in volunteering and Minnesota was the second overall state in volunteering! This year there were over 1,560,600 volunteers in Minnesota alone. You can learn how to #GoVolunteer at

This Week in American History

Hutchinson family portrait circa 1845; sheet music featuring the original family, 1840

On November 19, 1855 the Hutchinson Family Singers founded the town of Hutchinson, in McLeod County. The family settled in Minnesota after touring the nation as one of the most popular musical groups of the time; singing in four part harmony, the Hutchinson Family Singers were a national sensation, with songs such as Get Off the Track!, Right Over Wrong, The Slave Appeal, Song of Our Mountain Home. Beyond becoming the first uniquely American musical celebrities, they were known for their political activism, promoting abolitionism and temperance, as well as workers and women’s rights.

Spotted in the Seventh

Can YOU guess what was Spotted in the Seventh? Each week, the newsletter will feature a landmark or site somewhere in Western Minnesota. The first person to name the location wins! The location of the photo as well as the winner will be revealed in the next newsletter.

This week’s landmark is a governmental center located near one of Minnesota’s largest lakes…

Congratulations to Heather Weller of New York Mills for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the In Their Own Words Museum in Perham!

Share your guess on our website –

“Colorful Sickness”
Riley Tuve (RAYMOND)