Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 2/12/2018

Lake Shetek State Park – Murray County

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday, the House Agriculture Committee hosted U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss economic issues in rural communities. I urged Secretary Perdue to stand up for agriculture and rural priorities when the Administration puts out its budget for next year. Throughout the week, advocates of Minnesota’s barley, wheat, and sugarbeet industries visited my office to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill. After a brief shutdown of the Government lasting only a few hours, Congress passed yet another short-term funding bill. I opposed this bill because it included wide ranging policy, some of it problematic, that bypassed the normal committees of jurisdiction who are charged with ensuring that resources are being spent effectively. The new spending in this bill will add to our growing deficits which are now projected to top $1 trillion per year. These deficits weaken our economy, hurt our national security and are an unfair burden to the next generation. On a more positive note, I look forward to cheering on Team USA as they compete in the Olympics in South Korea. They have worked incredibly hard to represent our country and I wish them all the best.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Minnesota Rural Electric Association

Electric cooperatives aim to provide reliable service to rural communities which is especially important to those who depend on electricity to heat their homes. Minnesota Rural Electric Association members visited Washington on their annual visit to discuss policies that keep their power services affordable.

Minnesota Barley Growers Association

I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Minnesota Barley Growers Association on Tuesday. We discussed possible changes to how the national average barley price is calculated for farm programs. We also talked about how conservation programs will likely be adjusted in the next farm bill.

Minnesota Wheat

Representatives of Minnesota Wheat visited my office on Thursday before attending an educational wheat event hosted by the National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Wheat Foundation. The event “Wheat 102” showcased the wheat value chain and how important the commodity is to our economy and food supply. The Seventh District ranks number one among all 435 congressional districts in terms of wheat for grain acres according to the 2012 Ag Census. The Minnesota delegation talked to my staff about issues of importance to the industry, such as the farm safety net programs, crop insurance, conservation, and tax policy.

Minnesota Private College Council

President Bill Craft (Concordia College)

Members of the Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC) visited my office to discuss higher education in greater Minnesota. As Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, I appreciate MPCC’s perspective on keeping our rural colleges competitive and affordable.

State of the Rural Economy

On Tuesday, United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue shared his thoughts on the state of the rural economy with the House Agriculture Committee. Secretary Purdue would like to rebuild the strength of America’s producers by building on the successes of crop insurance and other programs within the United States Department of Agriculture. He also stressed the importance of reaching a fair North American Free Trade Agreement deal to expand markets for U.S. produce. Secretary Perdue must use his position in the Administration to resist the proposed funding cuts to mandatory farm bill programs. I hope he will work with us to provide rural America an adequate safety net and the resources they need to be successful.

National Sorghum Producers

On Wednesday, I met with a group of sorghum producers from around the country. They are facing trade challenges as some of their trading partners have imposed tariffs in recent months. We discussed the outlook for the farm bill and the issues surrounding the new tax law.

American Pulse Association and USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council

On Wednesday, I met with Jason Halverson (first from left, BELGRADE) who’s a dark red kidney bean grower, as well as Pat Smith and Todd Wittman from the American Pulse Association and Lentil Council. They offered some suggestions about their crop research priorities and we discussed ways to improve reference prices and marketing assistance loans in the farm bill. Pulse crop production has been increasing quickly in recent years and hopefully we can keep that momentum going.

American Sugarbeet Growers Association

On Monday, sugarbeet farmers and representatives from Minnesota came to my office, and we talked about the effects of the tax reform bill on their cooperatives. On Tuesday morning, I addressed the American Sugarbeet Growers Association annual meeting about the prospects for a 2018 Farm Bill. Sugarbeets are a huge part of our economy in the 7th District, and I’ll be working to ensure that the sugar program remains effective in the next farm bill.

Food and Beverage Alliance

I met with the Food and Beverage Alliance to discuss their strong support for NAFTA and their need for more certainty regarding food labeling regulations. Like many other agriculture groups, the Food and Beverage Alliance stressed just how important NAFTA is to the industry since a significant percent of U.S. agricultural exports go to Mexico and Canada. Regarding food labeling, the group discussed how they are currently unable to comply with the new Nutrition Facts label because the Food and Drug Administration has not finalized guidance on certain issues, like how to define added sugar.

National Treasury Employees Union

Last week, Minnesotan members of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) visited Washington to share some of their legislative priorities with my staff. I appreciate NTEU’s efforts to improve working conditions and protect the benefits of public servants in Minnesota and around the nation.

KASM Radio Interview

On Wednesday, I was a guest on KASM radio which is based in Albany. I gave a quick update on the farm bill, dairy provisions, and the tax reform bill from the end of 2017. We also touched base on the recent meeting between the House Agriculture Committee and Secretary Perdue.

Listen to my interview here.

United States Department of Agriculture Research Service and Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers

On Tuesday, my staff met with the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center to discuss the continued need for federal funding for agricultural research. During the meeting, my staff learned about the innovative basic and applied research being done at the center. They discussed how they would like to do more, but because of budget limitations and an inability to hire more scientists, projects are sitting idle. I have been a strong supporter of ag research over the years and recognize the role it plays in ensuring a safe and accessible food supply.

University of Minnesota Extension

University of Minnesota Extension representatives visited my office on Thursday to talk about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) in Minnesota. SNAP-Ed employees use evidence-based approaches to help folks using or eligible for SNAP in local communities learn about nutrition and make smart food choices. In 2017, more than 13,000 Minnesotans participated in SNAP-Ed classes, such as cooking classes, with 38 percent of class participants reporting eating more fruits and vegetables after finishing the classes. The SNAP-Ed representatives also noted that nutrition education can help prevent long-term health care costs, with every dollar spent on nutrition education can save close to $10 in the health care costs in the long run.

Pennington County Sportsmen Club

Last week, one of my staff attended a meeting held by the Pennington County Sportsmen Club to discuss ways to get more young people outdoors. I have always enjoyed the outdoors and am happy to see so many volunteers dedicated to getting children outside.

Multi-County Opioid Discussion

My staff also attended a multi-county meeting in Mahnomen to discuss the effects of opioid abuse in local communities. Opioid abuse has become a national problem, and it is important to understand the damage these drugs cause. While the United States represents only 5 percent of the population, Americans consume nearly 90 percent of prescription pain medications. In our district, the deaths from drug overdoses now exceed the deaths from car crashes. I encourage communities to address this problem and work together to help those struggling with addiction. While there is no easy solution, I will continue to advocate against opioid abuse in Congress.

This Week in American History

On February 6, 1862, Redwood County was established. It was named for an English translation of Chan Sha Ayapi, a Dakota name for one of the county's rivers. Previously part of Brown County, this territory later became, in addition to Redwood, the counties of Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, and Yellow Medicine.

Red Lake – Beltrami County