Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 12/7/2018
This week, Americans mourned the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. His dedication to service and the class he demonstrated during difficult times will be fondly remembered. In Minnesota, I joined with veterans and community leaders in Montevideo to celebrate the contribution of late-veteran Steven Williams, who left $2.8 million to help build a new veterans home in town. At the event, I shared my intent to fight for federal funding for this veterans home during the 116th Congress. I also met with agriculture producers and press to share updates on the timing and key provisions included in the Farm Bill for Minnesota. The House is expected to vote on the Farm Bill Conference Report next week, and I expect strong bipartisan support to take it through to the President’s desk.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Serving the 7th
Underpaid GI Bill Benefits
Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced to Congress that it will not reimburse student veterans who were underpaid due to computer issues at the agency. In response to this news, my office is working to make sure my constituents receive the education benefits they earned. Since last week, I have helped two student veterans receive reimbursements in their benefits. If you received lower than usual education benefits from the VA, please reach out to my district staffer Meg Louwagie at Meg.Louwagie@mail.house.gov.
Separately, my office had several productive discussions with the Fargo VA this week which resulted in the continuation of a successful PTSD management program. According to several veterans from the 7th District, programs like these are one of the most critical components of mental healthcare. As always, I encourage veterans and Veterans Service Organizations to use my office as a resource in the event that future healthcare concerns arise.
Donation Announced for Montevideo Veterans Home Project
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and partners hosted a press conference to announce a $2.8 million donation to support the proposed veterans home project in Montevideo. The details of the donation, made by late-veteran Steven Williams, were announced by his brother James Williams. These funds will support the construction of the planned 72-bed facility that hopes to break ground in autumn of 2019. I attended this event to offer my support for the project. I will be advocating for federal funding matches to construct new veterans homes in Montevideo and Bemidji. I wish to express my gratitude to Mr. Steven Williams and his family for this generous gift to our veterans.
Talking Farm Bill in Moorhead and South St. Paul
This week, I held two meetings with state farm groups and agribusiness in Moorhead and South St. Paul to talk about the Farm Bill. I told them that we are very close to a final deal and I expect that we will have the bill filed early next week. We discussed the bill’s provisions for dairy producers, who have been particularly hurt by the depressed farm economy. We also talked about changes to commodity programs, the conservation title, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Looking ahead to next week, I anticipate the bill will have broad bipartisan support and we’ll finally be able to get this done and on to President Trump’s desk to become law.
Sugarbeet Growers Meet in Fargo
The Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative, American Crystal Sugar, and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association held their annual meetings in Fargo this week to discuss the 2018 harvest and their outlooks for 2019. I gave the groups an update on sugar provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill and the work that remains to enact the 5-year bill. Sugar is an important crop for our part of the country and I will continue to support the Farm Bill Sugar Program that ensures Americans will always have a reliable source of sugar products. Cold temperatures delayed harvests and caused some growers to lose portions of their crop this year. Congress should support sugar producers by enacting the 2018 Farm Bill and moving to resolve trade disputes with Canada and Mexico.
Former President George H. W. Bush: 1924 – 2018
On Thursday, December 6th, former President George H.W. Bush was laid to rest in Houston, Texas. This week, I joined a resolution that will be formally introduced in the coming days to honor his memory and service to the American people. He was a statesman, a patriot, and a family man. I admired President George H.W. Bush for the civility he displayed while he served his country. After President Bush’s unsuccessful reelection bid in 1992, he left the following note for the new President in the Oval Office which speaks to his character:
The Corporation for National & Community Service honors the late-President’s legacy of service and hopes you will honor him by pledging time to volunteer in your community. Click here to learn more about President George H.W. Bush’s legacy of service, and pledge to volunteer in honor of the example he set for us all.
Todd County Farm Bureau
Roger Zastrow, Todd County Farm Bureau; Minnesota State Representative John Poston; Delvin Durheim, Todd County Farm Bureau and my staff aide Grant Herfindahl
My staff aide Grant Herfindahl attended a Todd County Farm Bureau meeting in Browerville last Saturday. Bad weather prevented me from attending in person, so I spoke to the group over the phone about the progress that is being made to pass the Farm Bill. One of my top priorities for this farm bill is adding provisions to stem the loss of small dairy farms in my district. Hard-working dairy farmers need and deserve a better price insurance program than the Margin Protection Program (MPP) currently provides and new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill will rework programs that help small and medium sized dairies. I also answered questions on topics including as suicide and opioid addiction, immigration reform, and Amish buggy safety.
Governor-Elect Tim Walz Visits Hallock
My staff attended Governor-elect Tim Walz’s public listening session at Far North Distillery near Hallock this week. The participants had a range of issues to discuss related to agriculture. I look forward to working with my former colleague in addressing some of those issues in the new Farm Bill.
Northwest Regional Development Commission Meeting
The Northwest Regional Development Commission hosted its annual meeting in East Grand Forks this week. My staff heard the Commission talk about their need to expand their senior assistance programs as rural populations age. This commission developed programs that service 21 Minnesota counties from Hallock to Hancock. For more information on the Commission’s programs for seniors, or to see if they serve your community, call 1-800-333-2433.
Highway 2 West Manufacturers
My staff aide LeRoy Stumpf attended the Highway 2 West Manufacturers meeting hosted by Textron Specialized Vehicles / Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls. David Towley from Bemidji State University discussed ways to develop a culture of safety leadership, and the other presentation was about changing the perception of manufacturing. Folks discussed ideas to encourage an interest in manufacturing because only 3% of our youth claim to see their future in manufacturing.
Agricultural Trade Projections for 2019
According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, the U.S. consistently sells more farm goods than it purchases, but the outlook for 2019 indicates what could be the smallest surplus since 2007. The value of exports has increased since 2016, but the value of imports has risen at a slightly faster rate, leading to a declining trade balance. This is further compounded in Fiscal Year 2019 by significant declines in projected exports to China.
Click here to read more about USDA’s trade projections for 2019.
This Week in American History
On December 3rd, 1862, Charles A. Pillsbury was born in New Hampshire. After moving to Minneapolis in 1869, he learned the flour-milling business and helped introduce roller mills that could crush Minnesota's spring wheat into high-grade bread flour. Upon his death in 1899, the Pillsbury-Washburn Flour Mills Company was the largest in the world.
What’s the Story?
SunOpta is a global company which has sunflower facilities in Breckenridge, operations in Alexandria and Crookston, and has their U.S. headquarters in Edina. SunOpta works with 2,500 farmers and owns and operates more than 30 facilities in North America. The company specializes in sourcing, processing, and packaging natural and organic food products and handling the process from seed through packaged products. I have a package of SunOpta sunflower seeds in my Washington D.C. office.
Larry and Anne Halvorson, Tom and Gretchen Reeves, and German Exchange Students from the 7th, Jakob Noll, Nadja Straub and Paul Willers toured the U.S. Capitol with my office