Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 12/14/2018
This week, the Farm Bill Conference Report was approved by the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support. After months of negotiations, I am proud of the work that was done to get this legislation through Congress and onto the President’s desk. I urge President Trump to act quickly and sign this bill into law without delay. On Tuesday, the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. visited my office to discuss the status of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Leaders of the Minnesota Farm Bureau were in Washington this week and they met with me on Thursday to talk about the passage of the Farm Bill and new members who have an interest in serving on the Agriculture Committee next year. Next week, Congress must enact a funding plan to avoid a government shutdown before the holidays.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Farm Bill Conference Report Passes House and Senate
Speaking in support of the Farm Bill on the House Floor on Wednesday
The Farm Bill Conference Report was approved by both the House and Senate with significant bipartisan support this week. A vote of 369-47 in the House and 87-13 in the Senate makes the 2018 Farm Bill the most widely supported farm bill in history. Rural America is facing many challenges right now, and this bill goes a long way to provide certainty to farmers and ranchers. It reforms and reauthorizes many USDA programs, allowing them to provide better support for producers during this difficult time. The reforms to dairy programs that expand coverage options and increases flexibility for dairy farmers are some of the most important provisions included in this bill. While the road to get here was rough, I am proud of the work that was done to make this bill a success. I encourage President Trump to sign the Farm Bill into law quickly.
I held a press conference at the Moorhead airport to answer questions about the Farm Bill on Friday. I discussed reforms that will assist dairy producers, sugarbeet growers, and nutrition beneficiaries. Click here to read more about the 2018 Farm Bill.
Canadian Ambassador to the United States
Ambassador David MacNaughton
Ambassador MacNaughton visited with me to discuss the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade deal that must be ratified by the next Congress. Steel and aluminum tariffs continue to be an issue for Canada and the United States as marine and snowmobile manufacturing facilities in my district are facing increased input costs. I look forward to working with my Canadian counterparts as USMCA continues to be debated in Congress.
Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation
Brian Hanson, Director of Public Policy Amber Hanson Glaeser, Julie Paap, President Kevin Paap
Leaders of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation visited with me on Thursday about the Farm Bill’s passage through Congress and the next steps to implement the legislation. During the 116th Congress, lawmakers must oversee the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill to ensure the modified programs operate the way lawmakers intended. We also discussed which incoming members of the House of Representatives have shown interest in serving on the House Committee on Agriculture next year.
Beltrami County Commissioner
Reed Olson, a Beltrami County Commissioner, visited my office this week to discuss healthcare, child services, and economic development across the county. I look forward to working with Reed, particularly as we continue to combat the national opioid epidemic.
Affordability Champion Award
This week, the Council for Affordable Health Coverage presented me with the 2018 Affordability Champion Award. The Council, which includes Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, selected me for my support of the Premium Relief Act (H.R. 4666) and the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018 (H.R. 6311). Both pieces of legislation are designed to lower premiums and expand coverage options.
Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association
Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association President Mike Landuyt and Former MSCA President Sekeka
I attended the 2018 Minnesota Cattle Industry Convention held by the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association in Alexandria last weekend. I addressed the Cattlemen and visited with their members during my visit. We spoke about the Farm Bill and the need to give states the right to manage their populations of gray wolves. The gray wolf population is much larger in Minnesota than in other parts of the country and has been causing issues for livestock owners. I have advocated for state-level management of gray wolves for years, and I will continue to push for this change during the 116th Congress.
U.S. Military Academy Panel
Mike Arntson, Alex Cabrera, Ed Zarembo, Steve Cotaiu, Richard Smestad
The U.S. Military Academies were first established to provide future officers with specialized training in areas like engineering and artillery. These Academies have developed prestigious reputations for excellence in education and leadership. Each year, it is my honor to nominate qualified individuals from within my district to these Academies. This past weekend, several students from my district heard from a panel of Academy alumni and full-time service members about their experience. My staff aide Meg Louwagie attended the panel.
Canola Symposium in Roseau
The Minnesota Canola Council and University of Minnesota Extension held the Canola Symposium in Roseau this Tuesday. Speakers from Manitoba, North Dakota, and Minnesota discussed topics including “Why Grow Canola on Your Farm?” and “The Life of a Flea Beetle.” If you could not attend this conference but would like to learn more about canola, most of the presentations are available at www.mncanola.org. My staff attended this event and enjoyed the opportunity to meet and visit with canola growers.
Michael Wedin Completes FBI Training Academy
Michael, Luke, April, Reese and Joe Wedin
Michael Wedin from Thief River Falls is a Captain within the Minnesota State Patrol. This week, he completed the 11-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia where he took master level classes in leadership and constitutional law, among other courses led by the FBI to improve his ability to serve the State of Minnesota. Michael is honored to have been selected to represent the Minnesota State Patrol at the 247th session of the FBI National Academy and plans to bring his new knowledge and leadership skills back with him. Michael and his family stopped by my Washington, D.C. office on Thursday.
New Staff Serving the 7th
Grant Herfindahl recently became part of my staff in Willmar. Grant has been active in community affairs and local politics for many years and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. He was elected Clerk of the Benson Township Board in 1980 and continues to serve in that position today. He also served as a County President and on the state policy committee of Minnesota Farmers. In 1989, he was elected to the Swift County ASCS County Committee until he entered a USDA training program to become a County Executive Director (CED). He went on to serve as a CED for nearly 20 years in counties throughout the 7th District. In 2015, Grant received a Presidential appointment to be the State Director of the Farm Service Agency in Minnesota. Welcome to the team, Grant!
Minnesota Premium Security Program
This week, I joined my colleagues in urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in opposition to a proposed $100 million cut to Minnesota’s reinsurance program, the Minnesota Premium Security Program (MPSP). This decision contradicts an agreement reached last year by the state and the federal government to help stabilize Minnesota’s individual health insurance market. The Minnesota Department of Commerce estimates that MPSP, which I organized federal support for in 2017, reduced premium rates by 20% for 2019 coverage. I will continue to fight the proposed cut.
Rural Broadband Development
This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in favor of an order to help address the budget shortfall in the High-Cost Universal Service Fund (USF). This action, which I requested in two bipartisan letters to the FCC, will provide hundreds of millions of dollars to small, rural operators every year as they work to develop broadband in rural communities. The vote was an important step toward providing rural communities with comparable broadband services for comparable rates, and I will continue to advocate for future investment in the USF.
2019 Health Insurance Coverage
The deadline to register for January 1, 2019 health insurance coverage is midnight on Saturday, December 15. MNsure has posted a plan comparison tool and income guidelines to help Minnesotans determine whether they qualify for tax credits or other financial assistance.
Trade Aid Held Up by Office of Management and Budget
USDA was expected to announce the second round of trade relief payments during the first week of December, but the approval process has been delayed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney met with President Trump on December 14th to discuss the second half of payments and to determine if additional payments will be made.
USDA “ReConnect” Broadband Program
This week, USDA announced a new rural broadband initiative called “ReConnect.” The $600 million loan and grant program, which was authorized by Congress in March, will prioritize projects designed to deliver high-speed connections to rural homes, businesses, and farms. More information about the program, its eligibility requirements, and application deadlines can be found here.
Forest Service Report
As a co-chair of the Congressional Working Forests Caucus, I am a strong supporter of sustainable timber harvests that benefit our National Forests and businesses. Today, the Forest Service announced that the agency sold 3.2 billion board feet this fiscal year, which is 10% more than last year. Due to smart forest management, this is the first time in 20 years that the Forest Service has sold more than 3 billion board feet.
This Week in American History
On December 12th, 1928, the newly built Foshay Tower in Minneapolis was lit up for the holidays. After a visit to Washington, D.C., businessman Wilbur B. Foshay came to Minnesota with the hope to create a tower inspired by the Washington Monument. The construction of this building began in the 1920s. It remained the tallest building in the city for almost fifty years. In the 1970s, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Tower is a museum that pays homage to the city of Minneapolis and the building’s observation deck offers a spectacular view of the city.
What’s the Story?
This year, the 2018 United States Congressional Holiday Ornament features a miniature version of a stained-glass window found in the United States’ Capitol. This window was the work of the J. & G. Gibson Company of Philadelphia and was completed in 1859. It displays a symbol of patriotism, the American Bald Eagle. Underneath the eagle is our nation’s motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” Out of many, one. During the holiday season, I have a few of these ornaments in my Washington office.
You can see the other ornaments in this collection here.
“My Cat Cookie”