Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 2/8/2019

February 11, 2019

Dear Friends,

This week, the House Agriculture Committee adopted its rules for the 116th Congress, so that it can begin addressing the important issues facing America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers. I am eager to get to work with the Committee, as we look at the state of the farm economy, monitor the struggles of our dairy farmers, and the effect of tariffs and trade disputes. Implementing the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill will require cooperation between the Committee and USDA to ensure that the bill is implemented in the way Congress intended. The Committee is in a position to guide real bipartisan change for all Americans, both urban and rural, and I am honored to serve as its Chairman for the 116th Congress.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Serving the 7th

Spam Calls Task Force Act

In recent years, I have heard from many constituents about increased spam and robo-calls. I agreed to co-sponsor the Spam Calls Task Force Act this week to establish an interagency working group to help reduce the number of these calls. The group would consist of law enforcement officials, diplomats, regulators, industry representatives, and other relevant entities.

Preventing the Spread of African Swine Fever

Hog farmers in the 7th District have contacted my office with concerns about the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus that is currently causing massive losses for pork producers across Asia and Europe. ASF is highly contagious, extremely resilient, and almost always lethal for pigs. While the virus is not harmful to humans, an outbreak in the U.S. would be extremely costly for American pork producers. I spoke with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on Monday to discuss what USDA is doing to reduce the risk of the virus spreading to the US. We will continue to work with leaders of the feed and pork industry to stay up to date on the best practices for risk mitigation. The 2018 Farm Bill included $300 million in funding over ten years to ensure the US is prepared to prevent and respond to animal pests and diseases.

State of the Union

On Tuesday, President Trump delivered the State of the Union address. The President’s speech covered a number of areas that unite Americans such as our role in liberating Europe in WWII, increasing our commitment to ending cancer, cutting prescription drug prices, and making investments in infrastructure that strengthen our country. It’s also no surprise that the passage of the farm bill is touted as an area where Congress has worked successfully on a bipartisan basis. As we look for a compromise to fund our government, I was encouraged that the President talked about listening to border patrol agents as decisions are made about how best to secure our border. Putting ideology aside and addressing the facts on the ground is the most straightforward path to getting the policy right that both sides can live with.

Chairman’s Corner

Minnesota Barley Association

National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance // Agricultural Retailers Association

USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council

USA Rice Federation // Farmers’ Rice Cooperative

American Crystal Sugar

I met with agriculture groups this week to discuss the issues that are important to their industries. A recurring topic throughout the week was the negative effects of trade conflicts with countries that consume large quantities of American agriculture goods - primarily China, Canada, and Mexico. The Administration’s tariffs have raised the cost of important materials and tools farmers and processors use and retaliatory tariffs on US agriculture goods have made our products less competitive in foreign markets. We also discussed the need for investment in rural infrastructure, pesticide and environmental regulatory reform, and crop research funding. Herb Holzapfel, Chairman of the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative, presented me with their Legislator of the Year Award for my stewardship of the farm bill during their visit.

Agriculture Committee Organizational Meeting

The House Committee on Agriculture convened Thursday to consider organizational matters of the Committee for the 116th Congress. During this meeting, the Committee adopted the rules that will govern its functions during the 116th Congress, as well as a list of Committee staff.

The House Agriculture Committee announced the addition of new Committee staff members on Wednesday.

Biodiesel Benefits Soybean Farmers

With the expiration of the biodiesel tax credit stretching into its second year, biodiesel plants are continuing to decrease production or shut down altogether. I have joined a letter urging Congress to pass a multi-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit which will help support struggling soybean farmers and will give biodiesel producers the support they need to restart operations.

American Indian Higher Education Consortium

This week, I met with representatives of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) to discuss a range of issues related to higher education. Representatives of the 7th District’s Red Lake Nation College and White Earth Tribal and Community College were in attendance. As Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, I will advocate for these institutions as they work to attract students, improve academic outcomes, develop faculty, and expand their campuses.

Minnesota Rural Water Association

The Minnesota Rural Water Association came to my office this week to highlight the important role our rural water systems play in keeping our communities healthy. Rural water and wastewater districts face distinct challenges in maintaining critical public health services. I am proud to support their work and help ensure clean water for all Minnesotans.

University of Minnesota Extension

Staff aide Cody Hollerich and Associate Program Directors Mary Caskey and Margaret Haggenmiller

University of Minnesota Extension visited with my staff on Monday to discuss Extension SNAP Education and the impact the program is making in the 7th District. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of low-income individuals and families avoid hunger and Extension SNAP Education assists them to make healthy choices with their limited resources. Extension leads classes that help folks purchase and prepare healthy foods cost-effectively. SNAP Education also builds community partnerships with farmers, food shelves, schools, day-care providers, and small businesses to support access to healthy foods for the most vulnerable Minnesotans.

Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators

Scott Behrns, Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center/ Olmstead County Sheriffs Office; Aeisso Schrage, Pine to Prairie Drug Task Force (CROOKSTON); Brian Marquart, Statewide Gang & Drug Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Michael Flanagan, Special Agent with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; and Bob Bushman, President of the National Narcotic Officers' Association Coalition.

This week, members of the Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators visited my office to discuss their work in rural Minnesota and the tools our law enforcement officials need to combat trends of drug use across America. I am committed to providing them with the proper equipment, technology, and funding they need to effectively do their jobs.

Karlstad is a “Purple Heart City”

A member of my staff joined the City of Karlstad last weekend to honor veterans and commemorate Karlstad’s designation as a “Purple Heart City.” Ten residents in this small community have been awarded a Purple Heart Medal. Eight of these ten were born and raised in Karlstad and three of the awarded veterans were present for the ceremony. Attendees also honored Lance Corporal Riley Kuznia of Karlstad. Lance Corporal Kuznia, 20, was killed January 1st, 2019 while serving in the Marine Corps. As a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I will fight to ensure our veterans always get the care and respect they deserve.

Minnesota Farmers Union at the State Capitol

Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish // Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman

On Tuesday, my staff joined Minnesota Farmers Union members on a trip to the State Capitol building in Saint Paul. The group spoke with lawmakers about the policy priorities of Minnesota’s farmers and met with Governor Tim Walz, the new Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, and the Speaker of the House, Melissa Hortman. Gary Wertish, President of the Minnesota Farmers Union, presented their priorities and asked the Governor and Speaker to help move their ideas forward.

Dr. Duane Browning Retires from Family Practice Medicine

Thirty-five years ago, Dr. Duane Browning started caring for families’ medical needs in the Thief River Falls area. He retired from family practice medicine this week and many of his patients and other well-wishers came together to celebrate and thank him for his decades of work. Three of his grandchildren are pictured with him here, wearing their white lab coats to look like their Grandfather. Thank you for your years of commitment and care, Dr. Browning.

Minnesotans Honored at National Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Matthew Lohr and National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Brent Van Dyke presented Brad Wenz of Waite Park with the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award for Conservation Excellence for conservation planning, in honor of his 38 years working one-on-one with farmers and ranchers to help them improve and protect their land. NACD President Van Dyke also swore in Ian Cunningham of Pipestone as NACD Secretary-Treasurer.

AM 1100 The Flag

I was a guest on Scott Hennen’s What’s On Your Mind radio show on Tuesday morning. Scott and I discussed current happenings in Washington such as the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, the State of the Union address and how to improve our border security.

Cyril “Cy” Carpenter 12/21/1922 – 2/4/2019

Cyril H. Carpenter passed away on Monday at the age of 96. Cy spent 23 years with the Farmers Union, serving as President of the Minnesota Farmers Union from 1972 to 1984. In 1984, he was elected to serve as President of the National Farmers Union, a position he held until 1988. During that time, he was elected to the International Agricultural Board, serving under President Carter. He was active in many Minnesota and national organizations: University of Minnesota College of Agriculture, Governor’s Council on Aging, National Council on Aging, Office of Technology Assessment, National Grains Grading Board, Green Thumb Inc., Program for Employment of Low Income Elderly, C.A.R.E, International Federation of Agricultural Procedures, and Kids Incorporated.


Broadband Development Toolkit

This week, USDA launched a new high-speed broadband eConnectivity resource guide. The toolkit allows users to identify federal resources for planning, equipment, construction, and research across 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment.

This Week in American History

Reverend William T. Boutwell

On February 4, 1803, the Reverend William T. Boutwell was born in Lyndeborough, New Hampshire. In 1832, he accompanied Henry R. Schoolcraft on the trip that confirmed Lake Itasca as the source of the Mississippi River, and he would supply the Latin words from which Schoolcraft named the lake veritas (truth) and caput (head). He would also serve as missionary to the Ojibwe in various Minnesota locations until 1847, when he moved to Stillwater, where he died on October 11, 1890.

What’s the Story?

Arctic Cat, Inc. designs, engineers and manufactures snowmobiles, ATVs, and Side by Sides. Textron is the parent company of Arctic Cat and they manufacture many types of Arctic Cat recreational vehicles at their plant in Thief River Falls. I have this model of a 2002 Arctic Cat 4 Stroke in my Washington, D.C. office.

Al Zola, Teresa Warne, Steve Rosenau and Dan Bernhardson of the American Crystal Sugar Company toured the US Capitol during their visit this week