Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 11/21/2014
Capitol Dome Restoration Project
It was officially announced this week that I will return as House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member for the 114th Congress. We will have a lot on our plate next year and I look forward to joining both new and returning colleagues in January to address farm and food policy issues. Today, Washington celebrated the arrival of the Capitol Christmas tree after a more than 2,000 mile journey, which began in the Chippewa National Forest. My office was happy to welcome the tree’s drivers for a visit and tour. Finally, EPA announced that it would delay a decision on the 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard, and USDA announced the appointment of the first Military Veteran Agricultural Liaison and released useful food safety information in preparation for Thanksgiving.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Jeffrey Grev and Joe Swedberg
It was good to meet the incoming Director of Legislative Affairs for Hormel Foods, Jeffrey Grev, and visit with Hormel’s current Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Joe Swedberg, on Tuesday. Based in Austin, Hormel is a food and meat manufacturer and marketer perhaps best known for its leadership in the processing and marketing of pork. Hormel has always been an important employer in Minnesota and I look forward to continue working with them on issues facing our state.
2014 Capitol Christmas Tree
Elwood and Joan Higdem (CLEARBROOK), Ken and Pat Lundgren (Deer River)
The 2014 Capitol Christmas Tree arrived at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol building today after a more than 2,000 mile journey. This year’s tree, an 88-foot tall White Spruce from the Chippewa National Forest in Cass Lake, will be decorated with handcrafted ornaments by children from various Minnesota communities as a gift from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” An official tree-lighting ceremony will take place on December 2 at 5:00 pm. The tree was transported by Elwood and Joan Higdem and Ken and Pat Lundgren, who made 33 stops along their route from the 7th to Washington. After unloading the tree, they stopped by my office for hot chocolate and a tour of the Capitol.
Military Veteran Agricultural Liaison
The USDA announced the appointment Karis Gutter as Military Veteran Agricultural Liaison this week, a new position designed to provide active duty military personnel and veterans with information, resources, and support pertaining to agriculture. Many of the nation’s veterans come from rural communities, but face challenges when looking to start their own farms or begin a career in agriculture. Gutter, a Marine Corps Reserve veteran and current Under Secretary for the USDA Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service, aims to strengthen formal relationships between USDA and other government and non-profit agencies to broaden assistance to veterans.
Charter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
While thousands of women are currently eligible to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the organization’s federal charter has not been amended to reflect female service in the military. The House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill to replace gender specific language with neutral terms by striking “men” from the charter and inserting “veterans.” The bill also reaffirms its intent to assist “surviving spouses” instead of “widows.”
Agriculture Committee Update
This week it was announced that I will serve as Ranking Member on the House Agriculture Committee for the upcoming 114th Congress. Texas Congressman K. Michael Conaway will chair the Committee. The Agriculture Committee has a strong tradition of working across party lines, something I look forward to continuing under Chairman Conaway. The Agriculture Committee will likely focus on Farm Bill implementation and reauthorizing the CFTC next session.
EPA Delays RFS Decision
The EPA on Friday announced that it would further delay a decision on the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The announcement leaves the future of ethanol, biodiesel and other advanced biofuels up in the air. The RFS has played a major role in keeping the rural economy strong and continued inaction could put that in jeopardy. Our farms, rural communities and the economy as a whole could all feel the impact. The proposed reductions to the RFS were unacceptable and, while the uncertainty created by today's announcement is not helpful, I hope that it will give the EPA the time needed to do the right thing.
2015 House Legislative Calendar
The 2015 House legislative schedule was unveiled on Wednesday, outlining the Congressional calendar for the 114th Congress. While there is still work to be done in the current Congress, I look forward to working with both returning and new colleagues.
Thanksgiving Food Safety
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released safety suggestions to help families properly and safely prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. Included in the guidelines are steps to follow when selecting, thawing, and cooking a turkey, as well as consuming leftover food. Food safety precautions have proven to help keep families healthy over the holidays by protecting against foodborne illness.
National Rural Health Day
On Thursday we celebrated National Rural Health Day. Almost 62 million Americans live in rural communities similar to the 7th District. Our rural communities often face unique challenges in their health care needs, and that's why I have fought to ensure that every Minnesotan has access to quality care, regardless of where they live. The 7th District has always sought innovative solutions to our health care needs, and we have been a leader in promoting access to care through tools like telemedicine. This day celebrates the hard work of our caregivers, providers, and communities to strengthen rural health.
International Fraud Awareness Week
In order to promote anti-fraud awareness and the protection of financial and personal information, organizations around the world are participating in International Fraud Awareness Week. The observance, from November 16-22, provides an occasion for organizations to assess and improve existing anti-fraud measures, without which an estimated 5 percent of annual revenue could be lost to scams.
Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month. The month recognizes the contributions of Native Americans to the establishment, growth, and historical identity of the United States. Native American Heritage Month is also an educational opportunity for the general public to attend films, performances, exhibitions, ceremonies, and discussions that will increase public knowledge of Native American history, and improve tribal communication and nation-to-nation partnerships. Today, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and Upper and Lower Sioux Communities call the 7th home.
NEH Native American Institution Grants
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), one of the largest federal grant-making agencies in the United States, intends to expand the distribution and availability of competitive grants to Native American institutions for humanities-focused projects. Native American museums, archives, libraries, colleges, and universities are especially encouraged to apply for grant programs, ranging from endangered language and cultural preservation to institutional development and faculty support. Challenge grants are also available to help Native American institutions develop new or existing long-term humanities programs and resources.
Capitol Dome Restoration Project
Fifty-two miles of scaffolding now envelop the more than 150 year-old United States Capitol Dome. The Capitol Dome Restoration Project, a multi-year repair venture, will repair nearly 13,000 cracks, leaks, and patches of corrosion on the cast-iron structure. The project, the first since 1959, is expected to return the Dome to its original grandeur by October of 2016
County Courthouse Tour
Mahnomen County Courthouse 1921/Present
In November 1908, Mahnomen County commissioners agreed to issue ten, $1,000, 20-year bonds to finance a courthouse in Mahnomen, the county seat. F.W. Kenney, of Kenney & Halden of Minneapolis, designed the courthouse which was eventually constructed by Mahnomen resident Carl Nelson in 1910. The neo-classic structure, which in cost $9,763 to build at the time, is trimmed with limestone and features a central pavilion and a classical pediment. Mahnomen County remodeled the courthouse in 1975, and included an $808,000 addition which eliminated three arched windows on the second floor.
This Week in American History
Hutchinson Family, 1845
The town of Hutchinson was founded in McLeod County by the Hutchinson Family Singers on November 19, 1855. The Singers, a four-part harmony singing group from New Hampshire, were some of the most popular American entertainers of the 1840s. From 1841 until the conclusion of the Civil War, the Hutchinson Family singers toured the country with a repertoire of political, social, comic, and dramatic performances. Brothers John, Asa, and Judson, all vocalists in the group, first heard of Minnesota from a friend in New England. After forming a party of explorers, the brothers set out to find the Hassan (now Crow) River, where a location on the crest of a hill overlooking the valley was selected as the site of the town.
Visitors from the 7th
Greta, Ginny, and Bruce Imholte (DETROIT LAKES)
Jana Fredricks, David Thompson, Rileigh Solsaa, and Shane Dewald (ALEXANDRIA)
Taylor Idso (LITCHFIELD)
2014 Congressional Art Competition