Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 11/2/2018
Celebrating the Grygla Trail opening in Beltrami Island State Forest
While Congress was in recess, I was busy traveling the state visiting with folks on a number of issues important to Western Minnesota. On Tuesday, I celebrated the official opening of a new ATV trail connection near Grygla. Sportsmen in the area have long told me about the need to reconnect the state forest roads that were washed out by flooding in 2002, and I was able to negotiate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota DNR to make that happen. We also received some great news up North with the timely approval of Digi-Key’s application for a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) subzone status. I worked with the company to get the Administration to expedite Digi-Key’s application which will help the company and consumers alike. I have also been fighting on behalf of over 900 Minnesota farmers and landowners to reverse the Department of Agriculture’s decision to put a hold on making CRP payments where revisions or corrections to contracts are pending. After talking to Secretary Perdue and following up with farmers, I have been assured that USDA headquarters will send out word shortly that the local offices will be allowed to move forward and run these contracts through the computer system. I appreciate the working relationship that I have with Secretary Perdue and the Department, and I am happy that we were able to resolve this situation for landowners and producers in Minnesota as well as surrounding states.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Grygla Trail Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
This week, I joined Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr, members of the Grygla-Fourtown Sportsmans Club, and the Roseau & Lake of the Woods Sportsmans Club to celebrate the official opening of the Dam 4 Trail Connection in Beltrami Island State Forest. This section of trail had been closed due to flooding in 2002. After negotiating a land exchange deal between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota DNR, we were able to get this section of trail opened for ATV and Recreational Off-highway Vehicle usage. I enjoyed celebrating the trail section opening with the clubs and riding the trail on both Polaris and Arctic Cat machines. It was great to see this long-term project completed, and I am pleased we could find a resolution for the area sportsmen and women that use our natural resources in this part of Minnesota.
Tariff Relief Approved for Digi-Key Corporation
In late August, Digi-Key Corporation applied for Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) subzone status at their Thief River Falls facility in response to escalating tariffs on electrical components. I wrote a letter to the Department of Commerce asking the agency to approve their application in an expedited manner. Facilities that receive FTZ status approval can achieve significant savings through reduced tariff payments and customs efficiencies. Final decisions on FTZ status applications usually take up to 90 days, but Digi-Key received their approval in about two months. Advocating on behalf of our rural Minnesota businesses is one of my most important responsibilities. Securing this timely and positive outcome for a bedrock manufacturing facility in northern Minnesota will benefit employees and customers alike.
Rick Trontvet, Vice President of Administration for Digi-Key Corporation, said, “Congressman Collin Peterson’s letter and voice of encouragement was no doubt a critical factor in our receiving such a prompt, affirmative response from the Department of Commerce. Approval of our FTZ was an important step and gave Digi-Key another tool for mitigating the impact of the recent China tariffs on our customer base.”
If you and your business have questions on seeking tariff relief, feel free to contact Zach Martin with my office at Zach.Martin@mail.house.gov for further information.
Action for Farmers with Delayed CRP Payments
On Thursday, I called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to allow FSA offices to make payments on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts where modifications are pending. The agency made payments under similar circumstances in 2013 and should do so again this year. I spoke with USDA Secretary Perdue last week and he promised me this issue would be fixed. There are over 930 such cases across Minnesota, and folks depend on CRP payments to pay property taxes and other bills. I appreciate the working relationship that I have with Secretary Perdue and the Department, and I’m happy that we were able to resolve this situation for landowners and producers in Minnesota as well as surrounding states.
Northwest Manufacturers Celebration
I attended the Northwest Region Minnesota Manufacturers Association meeting in Roseau this week. The organization awarded scholarships to winners of their annual essay contest and invited them to read their essays which described the impacts of manufacturing in their communities. With 28,739 jobs at 815 establishments, manufacturing is the second largest employing industry in the 26-county northwest Minnesota planning region. Manufacturing accounts for 13 percent of total employment in the Northwest, nearly 2 percent more concentrated than in the state as a whole. Minnesota’s manufacturing workers brought home the second-highest total wages of the state’s business sectors last year.
Redwood Area Rotary Club
On Monday, I met with Redwood Area Rotary Club to share an update on the Farm Bill and answer questions from the group. Many of their questions were about the relationships between lawmakers in Washington. I told them that it’s not always an easy task to find common ground, but that I am willing to work with anyone I can to advance the issues that folks in the 7th District care about. It was a good meeting and I enjoyed my time spent with the Redwood Area Rotarians.
Dakota Immersion School
This week, I visited the Cansayapi Wakanyeza Owayawa Oti, Lower Sioux Dakota Immersion Early Head Start and Head Start. Director Vanessa Goodthunder gave me a tour of the school and shared some of the school’s early successes. The facility just opened in August and is already full. Children are being prepared to be the next generation of Dakota language speakers by immersing students in their culture while assisting them with school readiness.
Peterson, Klobuchar, Smith Call on FEMA to Ensure Accurate Flood Mapping for Halstad and Hendrum
This week, I led a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), along with Senators Klobuchar and Smith, urging the agency to delay issuing new preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Norman County until they have been updated to include the flood control projects currently underway. FEMA has the responsibility to ensure their flood mapping is accurate and considers the important work our communities are doing to protect against flood damage. By failing to incorporate upcoming flood protection projects, FEMA will place unnecessary flood insurance costs on households in the region. Including flood control projects on the new maps is a commonsense solution.
Halstad and Hendrum Mayors Lori DeLong and Curt Johannsen shared comments on the effort.
“Congressman Collin Peterson, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Tina Smith are true advocates for rural MN,” Mayor DeLong said. “Their support in asking FEMA to delay its Red River Valley Flood Plain mapping process will certainly have a positive impact for the City of Halstad. A FEMA decision to delay the mapping process will ensure our citizens are not subject to flood insurance requirements. The City of Halstad is currently in an active levee reconstruction project which is slated to be completed in the later of 2019 which will ensure FEMA recertification of the city levee system. With the delay of the mapping process and upon the completion of the levee reconstruction project, the City of Halstad can avoid any detrimental cost to its citizens. The City of Halstad truly appreciates the work and dedication of its United States Congress Representatives!”
“The citizens of the community of Hendrum greatly appreciate and are thankful for the efforts of Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, and Congressman Collin Peterson in assisting us with working with FEMA,” Mayor Johannsen said. “Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith, and Congressman Peterson have always been there when the City of Hendrum, as well as others in the State of Minnesota, needed them. It is assuring to know that our federal delegation listens and stands up for all its constituents in Minnesota. Thank-you Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith, and Congressman Peterson!”
You can read the text of the letter on my website here.
Opioid Town Hall
My staff attended an Opioid Town Hall meeting in New London hosted by the Kandiyohi County Drug Free Communities Coalition and the Dan Baker Foundation this week. These educational meetings help overcome the stigmas associated with addiction through panel discussions with experts. Combined efforts at the federal, state and local level are critical to combat this epidemic. I am hopeful that our efforts will not only make a difference for individuals and families but will make our communities better equipped to respond to addiction. On Tuesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a Rural Resource Guide to Help Communities Address Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Misuse.
Tour of Economic Development Projects in Marshall
On Friday, my staff aide Jacki Anderson joined the Marshall Economic Development Authority (EDA) for a bus tour of past, present and future economic development projects including the newly designated federal Opportunity Zone. The tour featured investments from federal, state, local and private entities working to bring new opportunities to town including commercial development, new housing, recreational spaces and updated infrastructure.
USA Today’s America’s 50 Best Cities to Live 2018
Cities from across the country have been listed in this year’s America’s 50 Best Cities to Live by USA Today. There are many wonderful places to live in Western Minnesota, and this year two cities from the Seventh District, Thief River Falls and Hutchinson, were recognized by USA Today. These towns are home to many hard-working people and are seeing expansion through manufacturing and technical education.
Thief River Falls is home to both Digi-Key and Textron corporations, one distributes electronic components and the other manufactures outdoor recreational vehicles. Digi-Key itself employs over 4,000 people and Arctic Cat employs 900. I recently advocated for Digi-Key’s status as a Foreign Trade Zone subzone to the Department of Commerce and I participated in the ground breaking of their expansion efforts last year. Textron was also kind enough to provide a few side-by-sides for the Dam 4 North Star Trail connection ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this week. Each of these industries are essential to Minnesota’s economy and for the community of Thief River Falls. I have also always appreciated Thief River’s commitment to the arts, from their renowned high school choir to their active community theater. They also are home to the Ralph Engelstad Arena, a world-class facility where you can watch hockey at all levels of play.
Hutchinson is a vibrant community with a growing economy. I have advocated for the construction of the Harmony River Living Center, which will provide care for senior citizens. As a former 4-H kid, I make sure to attend the McLeod County Fair to and visit with local 4-H students every year. I have also toured the Hutchinson High School’s Tiger Path Initiative. One of only a few in Minnesota, the high school has partnered with local industries to provide students with the technical skills needed for today’s workplace needs.
I wish to congratulate Thief River Falls and Hutchinson for creating great places to live. I am proud to represent these communities in Washington.
Click here to read more about America’s 50 best cities to live.
2018-2019 Federal Duck Stamp
Bob Hautman’s winning Duck Stamp // the first Duck Stamp
Artist Bob Hautman from Delano painted this year’s winning entry, depicting a pair of alighting mallards. Bob has now won the federal contest 3 times with his latest success. Bob’s two brothers, Jim and Joe, are also artists and avid duck hunters. The 3 brothers have collectively won the contest 9 times. Ducks Unlimited partnered with the brothers this year to highlight their art and send them hunting in North Dakota.
The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp was first printed in 1934, and purchasing one is a requirement to hunt migratory game birds. The program has raised over $1 billion dollars since its inception, and the funds help acquire and protect over 6 million acres for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Folks in Washington gathered this week to celebrate the Duck Stamp Program with a gathering hosted by Ducks Unlimited and the USA Rice Federation. The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Program is an important tool for protecting wildlife habitat and creating sustainable and healthy bird populations across the country, so hunters can continue this American pastime.
State of Minnesota Seeks Information on Internet Speed
The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, located within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), launched a new tool that will allow Minnesotans to test, map and report various broadband internet speeds across the state. CheckSpeedMinnesota.com is a tool designed to gather information broadband access and speeds in Minnesota. By answering a few questions and running a speed test you can help create a better picture of how Minnesotans are being served by internet providers.
Deer Season Opener
Minnesota’s firearms deer season begins a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 3. Please ensure that all members of your party are aware of the basic rules of firearm safety, and that everyone obtains the proper license before heading out. You can find additional deer hunting information at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website and join in on social media using #DeerCampMN. You should direct hunting questions to the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
This Week in American History
Father Lucien Galtier and his log church
On November 1, 1841, Father Lucien Galtier dedicated his log church to "St. Paul, the apostle of nations." This name was deemed superior to "Pig's Eye," the community's previous title. St. Paul would be incorporated as a town on the same date in 1849. The log structure later served as the first school of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and in 1856 its logs were dismantled, numbered, and hauled up the hill to the St. Joseph's Academy construction site. Unfortunately, the plan to rebuild the chapel as a historic site had not been communicated to the workmen, who used the logs to warm themselves and their coffee.
What’s the Story?
Based in Karlstad, Mattracks produces rubber track conversion systems for 4x4 vehicles including ATV’s, trucks and agricultural vehicles. The conversion allows vehicles to utilize tracks for movement, enabling them to cross difficult terrain that could cause problems for wheeled vehicles. Mattracks has sold products in over 100 countries since becoming publicly available in 1994. They have also been featured in films including Terminator 3, Fast & Furious 8, and the James Bond film Spectre. I display photos of their innovative products in my Washington, D.C. office.
The Haggerty’s (BEMIDJI) and the Alajoki’s (MENAHGA) toured the U.S. Capitol Building with our office this week