Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 2/1/2019

February 4, 2019

The House Agriculture Committee Hearing Room

Dear Friends,

This week, temperatures in the seventh district dropped to extreme lows, with wind chill factors in parts of Minnesota reaching -65 degrees Fahrenheit. This kind of weather is dangerous for people and animals alike, and precautions should always be taken to ensure all are safe in these conditions. In Washington, I met with Minnesota canola growers, Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and others to hear about important issues to be addressed by the 116th Congress. I encourage farmers to check in with their county FSA office as USDA has announced a list of key farm program deadline extensions. I also joined Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA) to support America’s dairy farmers by introducing legislation to offer nutritious whole milk in schools.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Minnesota Canola

Zach Schaefer (HALLOCK), Rob Rynning (HALLOCK) and President of the Minnesota Canola Council Beth Nelson

On Wednesday, I met with representatives of Minnesota’s canola industry to discuss canola research appropriations, USDA conservation programs and other important issues for canola growers. We discussed how the canola industry benefits from USDA research dedicated to improving yields and increasing the plant’s resistance to disease, and how canola oil is used to make biofuel. The industry is strengthened by enforcing the Renewable Fuel Standard, which increases demand for biofuels, and by strong trade agreements that promote markets abroad.

National Sorghum Producers

On Tuesday, I met with a group of sorghum farmers and industry representatives. The 2018 Farm Bill included some modest improvements to their programs, but they have been feeling the negative effects of the ongoing trade disputes. I look forward to working with the sorghum producers to get through this tough time in the farm economy.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Senior Program Associate for the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy Tara Ritter and Senior Policy Specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Alyssa Charney

On Wednesday, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition presented me with the 2018 Farm Bill Award for my work on the 2018 Farm Bill. We also discussed their policy priorities for the 116th Congress. The group is happy to see a strong conservation title included in this farm bill and hopes that Congress will continue to make it easier and more efficient for folks to get started with USDA conservation programs. We also discussed some of their concerns with the Administration’s proposal to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) out of the Washington, D.C. area.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer

I had lunch with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week. We discussed the status of the negotiations with China, the impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agriculture, the legislative future of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and the importance of expanding market access for U.S. agriculture in the free trade agreements the administration plans to negotiate with Japan, the European Union, and the UK.

Adams on Agriculture

I spoke with Mike Adams on Adams on Agriculture on Monday, to talk through many of the issues farmers are currently facing. We briefly discussed the end of the government shutdown last weekend, and I reiterated to Mike that nobody wins in a shutdown, especially not the farmers that count on basic services from USDA at the local level. We also talked about the shutdown’s impact on USDA’s effort to implement the 2018 Farm Bill, especially programs that will benefit struggling dairy farmers in Minnesota and elsewhere. Mike and I discussed a plan I have to ensure that USDA’s work on critical new farm bill programs will go on regardless of whether the government shuts down in the future. I do not agree with the federal government’s justification for keeping some functions of USDA running during the shutdown, while closing others. We also touched on the looming U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, climate change, the capacity of biofuels to contribute to reduced emissions, as well as my goal of pursuing practical, workable strategies that farmers will adopt to reduce their impacts without unnecessarily increasing federal regulations.

Ducks Unlimited

Donna Thaemlitz (Lakefield), Adam Durand, Minnesota State Chairwoman Ruth Hoefs, Minnesota State Chairman-Elect Kyle Thaemlitz and Cody Hollerich

My staff met with Ducks Unlimited leaders from Minnesota this week to discuss the organization’s support for reauthorizing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). This Act supports wetlands conservation projects across North America with federal matching grants. These grants support local projects to increase bird populations and wetland habitat, growing wildlife populations for America’s hunters and anglers. NAWCA projects can also address flood concerns, coastal erosion, and air and water quality issues.

United Postmasters and Managers of America

This week, my staff met with the United Postmasters and Managers of America to discuss the concerns of our postal service, including the maintenance of service standards, the closure of local offices and processing plants, and the prefunding mandate. It is time for Congress to work together to pass legislation to provide the Postal Service with the tools they need to maintain a viable business model. I will continue to work for sensible policies that enable this service vital to rural America to thrive.

USDA Farm Service Agency Announces Program Deadline Extensions

Due to the government shutdown, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced extended deadlines on many of its programs. Below is a list of updated deadlines:

Market Facilitation Program

  • Deadline to apply extended to Feb. 14, 2019

Marketing Assistance Loans

  • If loan matured in December 2018, settlement date extended to Feb. 14, 2019
  • Peanut loans or Loan Deficiency Payments - loan availability date now Feb. 28, 2019

Emergency Conservation Program

  • Performance reporting due Feb. 14, 2019

Livestock Forage Disaster

  • 2018 application for payment due Feb. 28, 2019

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program

  • Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019

Livestock Indemnity Program

  • Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

  • Submitting 2019 application for coverage due Feb. 14, 2019
  • Notice of loss for 72-hour harvest and grazing (as applicable) due Feb. 14, 2019
  • Notice of loss for prevented planting and failed acres due Feb. 14, 2019
  • Applications for payment for 2018 covered losses due Feb. 14, 2019

Tree Assistance Program

  • Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019

Acreage Reporting

  • January reporting deadlines extended to Feb. 14, 2019

Contact your local USDA Service Center if you have any questions related to farm program deadlines.

For details on all program deadlines and extensions, click here.

 Legislative Update

Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act

This week, I joined Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) to introduce H.R. 832, the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019, to allow unflavored and flavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias. I am proud to join Congressman Thompson in this effort to provide more nutritious and healthy beverage options for kids in school, and to support dairy farmers in Minnesota by expanding the market for milk during a time of difficult market conditions.

This Week in American History

Clarks Grove Cooperative Creamery, 1937

On January 28, 1890, farmers in Clarks Grove formed a dairy cooperative. This co-op was not the state's first, but its success inspired other communities to use Clarks Grove's organizational system and its bylaws, which were written in Danish, as a model. The Clarks Grove Cooperative Creamery closed its doors in 1996.

What’s the Story?

Collin Peterson, Committee Chairman, 2007-2011 // Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia.), Committee Chairman, 2003-2006

Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Committee Chairman, 1995-1997 // Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma), Committee Chairman, 2011-2014

There are four portraits currently hanging in the main hearing room of the House Agriculture Committee in Washington. As Chairman, it is a privilege to choose the portraits of the former chairmen that will hang on the walls for the 116th Congress, and I am honored to be surrounded by the portraits of then-Chairmen Pat Roberts of Kansas, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma. These are the three lawmakers—together with Ranking Member and immediate past Chairman Mike Conaway of Texas, whose portrait will join them once it’s completed—with whom I have had had the honor of writing a farm bill during my time either as Chairman or Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee. For those of you who have had the chance to see the main committee hearing room in person, my portrait and the Minnesota flag are now directly behind the Chairman’s seat at the head of the dais, and I encourage you to come and visit the hearing room if you are ever in D.C.

Hans Frank-Holzner (FERGUS FALLS) visited my office in Washington, D.C. this week. He is a student of Concordia University interning in Washington.