Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 12/11/2015

Sunrise, Otter Tail County

Dear Friends,

I was a guest on KFGO and KLGR Radio this week to discuss my efforts to protect crop insurance in the recent budget deal and the next steps for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). The Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research also held a hearing this week, where I questioned National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) Administrator Reilly about the Census of Agriculture and other NASS surveys. Congress has had some bipartisan success this year passing a long-term reauthorization of highway transportation programs. I am hopeful that Congress can come together in a similar spirit to pass needed legislation to fund the government for 2016 and extend tax credits which expired at the end of last year. Uncertainty surrounding the tax code is especially burdensome for our agriculture industry, and this is something I will continue to push.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Annual Sugar Co-op Meetings

American Crystal Sugar and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative held their annual meetings in Fargo during the last two weeks. These meetings are an opportunity for growers to look back at the previous year and plan for the future. Both cooperatives elected new board members and Minn-Dak recognized retired director Chuck Steiner of Foxhome for his 15 years of service to their board. We must remain vigilant against attacks on the farm safety net, like we saw in the budget deal. We were able to reverse those cuts to the crop insurance program, and I will continue to fight to ensure that people do not unravel the Farm Bill programs – like the successful sugar program – in the must-pass bills that Congress is currently considering.

KFGO News and Views

I joined Fargo’s KFGO Radio host Joel Heitkamp for a News and Views interview this week regarding the World Trade Organization’s decision to authorize annual retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico over the U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program. More than 60 countries have COOL in some capacity, and it is my hope that Congress can find a solution that helps farmers and consumers while avoiding retaliation by the end of the year.

KLGR Farm Show

I was a guest on the KLGR Farm Show this week to discuss COOL retaliation and my recent visits with farmers in the district. We also talked about my efforts to eliminate provisions of the budget deal that would reopen the farm bill and undermine the federal crop insurance program, and how we were able to address these concerns in the recently passed highway bill.

Farm Credit Association

Wally Sparby and Tom Meium of my staff met with the Farm Credit Association’s Legislative Committee on Friday to review agriculture policy. These farm credit associations, including Ag Country, Ag Star, and United FCS, provide credit, financial services and management consultation to farmers and rural communities in the 7th District.

Service Academy Interviews

Jennifer and Richard Smestad (FERGUS FALLS), Mike Arntson (MOORHEAD)

Each year, I have the privilege of nominating young people to U.S. service academies. On Saturday, a screening panel met to interview potential candidates applying for a nomination to one of the four U.S. service academies. These include the U.S. Military Academy West Point, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marines Academy. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy does not require a Congressional nomination. These institutions prepare college-age Americans to become officers of the U.S. Uniformed Services. Upon graduation, service academy graduates are commissioned as Officers in the active or reserve components of the military or Merchant Marines for a minimum of five years.

Legislative Update

Cotton Hearing

The Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing Wednesday to review the state of the cotton industry. Cotton growers are facing tough times, trying to get through this low price period with less help from the farm bill, which made the hearing especially timely. While cotton isn’t grown in the 7th District, it’s important for all of agriculture to stick together in support of a farm bill that works for all growers, of all sizes, in all regions of the country.

Agriculture Census Hearing

The Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a hearing Wednesday afternoon to look at the Census of Agriculture and other National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) surveys. I expressed concern to NASS Administrator Reilly about reports that farmers weren’t receiving ARC-CO payments because of yield data problems. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) uses farmer-provided yield data, collected by NASS, to calculate ARC-CO payments. However, farmers are not required to submit this information and if too few farmers from a county complete the survey, NASS can’t use that county’s data. When that happens, FSA must use other data sources, which may result in lower or no ARC payments. I also asked that he provide more information about how the national average all-barley price is set. He promised to follow up with my office.


Holiday Fire Safety

Winter holidays are a time of celebration for many families across the country, but also a time of increased risk of fire. The FEMA U.S. Fire Administration has released online educational materials to help families safely cook holiday meals, display decorations, and use heat sources.

Discovering the 7th

Dr. George R. Christie and family (1902)

The Christie Home Historical Society, founded in 1976, was the Long Prairie residence of Dr. George R. Christie ad his family from 1901 to 1976. The property is unique as the home has remained largely unchanged over the past century, with original family furnishings and artifacts. The museum, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, offers free tours to veterans and members of the military.

This Week in American History
National Guard “First Muster,” 1636

The first regiments of the U.S. National Guard were officially organized on December 13, 1636. As the original English settlements along the Eastern Seaboard began to expand west, citizens continued the practice of forming self-sufficient military units. This militia tradition, the foundation of the oldest military units in the United States, has provided community, state, and national defense for nearly 400 years. Citizen-soldiers have courageously served in every major American military conflict since 1637, making the National Guard one of the oldest military service organizations in the world.

Visitors from the District

Marna Metzger (Minnesota FSA) and Mike Krejci (American Crystal Sugar), Amber, Dodge, and Trevor Johnson (EAST GRAND FORKS)

Morgan Jarandson (FERGUS FALLS)
2015 Congressional Art Competition