Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/10/2017

Geese at Prairie Lake
Otter Tail County

Dear Friends,

This week the National Barley Improvement Committee, University of Minnesota Council for Agricultural Research Extensions and Teaching, American Crystal Sugar, Barnes Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association, and the Eastern South Dakota Soil and Research Farm came by to share updates on the latest agricultural issues and research. We also had several groups visit on upcoming health care priorities, including the Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, YMCA Minnesota, 340b Health Care Providers, Sanford Health, the Minnesota Psychological Association, and members from the pediatric dentistry community. I was also happy to welcome veterans groups, arts and humanities advocates, and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Commissioner Tingerthal to my office.

Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Mark Rutherford and Dr. Trevor Ames

Dr. Trevor Ames and Dr. Mark Rutherford from the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul were in Washington for the 2017 Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges annual conference. They expressed their support for funding programs such as the Veterinary Services Grant Program and the Loan Repayment Program, and also advocated for making the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program tax free. Additionally, we talked about the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Willmar and the new biocontainment facility in St. Paul.

Agriculture Research

Eastern South Dakota, Erland and Marlys Weert; Barnes Aastad, Jeff Swenson, Sue Dieter, Dean Meichsner, Dan Perkins; University of Minnesota, Tom Rothman, David Benson, Bev Durgan; NBIC, Scott Fisk, Dr. Eric Stockinger, Scott Heisel, Brian Lacey

This week a number of groups were in Washington and came to my office to discuss the importance of federal funding for agricultural research and teaching. The National Barley Improvement Committee talked about the importance of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the need to fully fund the US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. Delegations from the University of Minnesota in town for the 2017 Council for Agricultural Research Extension and Teaching (CARET) meetings stressed the importance and increasing relevance of the mission of land-grant universities. They also advocated for supporting an increase in NIFA. The Barnes Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association met with me in support of USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the North Central Soil Conservation Laboratory in Morris in particular. Finally, representatives of the Eastern South Dakota Soil and Research Farm in Brookings, SD, visited with me about the USDA ARS North Central Ag Research Lab in Brookings, which often partners with the ARS lab in Morris. I have been a strong supporter of ag research over the years, and it was great to hear from everyone on the value of ag research.

Minnesota Housing Finance Agency

This week, I met with Commissioner Mary Tingerthal and Assistant Commissioner Ryan Baumtrog of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to discuss the state of housing in Minnesota and protections for homeowners in the upcoming tax plan discussions. I commend them for their hard work to provide affordable housing to Minnesotans.

American Crystal Sugar

On Tuesday, I met with sugar beet growers and other representatives from the sugar industry. We talked about the issues surrounding the upcoming farm bill, along with other challenges that face farmers and rural America, including health care, infrastructure, and conservation.

Healthcare on the Hill

340b Health Advocacy Day, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, YMCA Minnesota, Minnesota Psychological Association, Sanford Health, Pediatric Dentistry Community

Several organizations and advocacy groups visited Washington this week to discuss their healthcare priorities in the new Congress. I appreciate the perspective of the Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and YMCA Minnesota on maintaining health services for the state’s vulnerable populations, and look forward to working with 340b providers and Sanford Health to secure affordable drug prices and care in rural facilities. Members of the Minnesota Psychological Association and Pediatric Dentistry Community also visited my office to discuss their efforts to expand mental health and dental services in rural communities. As Congress considers reforms to our healthcare system, I am committed to ensuring that the needs of patients and providers in the 7th District are met.

Minnesota Humanities

Christi Shortridge, Communications Director, David O’Fallon, President

This week, representatives from the MN Humanities Center were in town to discuss federal funding for National Endowment for the Humanities. The MN Humanities sponsored 22 events and exhibits in the seventh district. In 2013, the organization started the Veterans Voices Award program. It's an awards program that recognizes veterans who use the humanities to tell their stories.

International Association of Fire Fighters

Members of the International Association of Firefighters were in town to discuss pending legislation that will create a federal cancer registry for fire fighters. Fire fighters are at significant higher risk for cancer. The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will aid the health care policy advisers to better prevent and treat cancer in fire fighters. The group also advocated funding for the SAFER and FIRE grants. The grants provide funding directly to local fire departments to ensure departments have sufficient equipment and training to operate safely and effectively.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota

Sophia Lenarz-Coy, Aby John, Peter Woitock, Colleen Moriarty, Joe Walker, Rebekah Solem

Hunger Solutions Minnesota met with my staff members Rebekah Solem and Lisa Shelton to talk about anti-hunger programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The group was in Washington for the annual anti-hunger conference organized by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). They appreciated my support of SNAP and my commitment to keeping SNAP in the Farm Bill.

Rural Economic Development Group

My staff attended the Rural Economic Development (RED) Group meeting hosted by the McKnight and Blandin Foundations. Rural economic development professionals across Minnesota listened to a presentation by Growth and Justice on Understanding Rural Equity Perspectives and in small groups discussed a variety of topics such as economy, education, and government seen through the lens of rural residents.   

The mission of Growth and Justice is to “develop and advocate for public policy that makes Minnesota's economy more prosperous and fair for all Minnesotans.” For more on Growth and Justice go to:

United Way

Marcy Heemeyer, Executive Director of the United Way Southwest Minnesota, met with my staff to discuss tax reform and urges Congress to support provisions that build strong families and communities.

Paralyzed Veterans of America

Members of the Paralyzed Veterans of America stopped by the office to meet with staff to discuss VA health care system and the need to make sure all veterans have access to high quality, comprehensive, and veterans-centric health care as well as timely and accurate delivery of all earned benefits. The group also discussed staffing issues at the Minneapolis VAMC Spinal Cord Injury & Disorder Center. The Center is not running at capacity because of shortage of health care staff.

Legislative Update

Agriculture Committee Update

Renville County Board of Commissioners Chair, Bob Fox, testifying before the Subcommittee

The Agriculture Committee continued its review of farm bill programs this week with two Subcommittee hearings. The Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit met Thursday morning to review the farm bill’s rural development and energy programs. Rural development programs have a direct impact on our nation’s rural communities, providing critical investments for infrastructure projects and facilities. I’ve long made rural development a focus in the Seventh district, most recently taking a closer look at broadband service and ways to expand access. The farm bill’s energy programs also play a vital role in our rural economy, supporting value-added bio-based products and increased energy efficiency, high-skilled, high-paying jobs and improving farmers’ bottom lines. Bob Fox, Renville County Board of Commissioners Chair, testified before the Subcommittee.

On Thursday afternoon the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research held a hearing on farm bill specialty crop programs. The 2008 Farm Bill was the first farm bill to address the growing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, local foods and organics and we were able to continue this investment in the 2014 bill. Witnesses discussed ways to build on that support in the next farm bill. They also touched on the need for a steady supply of labor. It’s outside this Committee’s jurisdiction but potential Congressional action on immigration is a top priority for specialty crop producers.

Congressional Rural Veterans Caucus

This week, I reconstituted the Congressional Rural Veterans Caucus along with Rep. Adrian Smith (NE-03). We founded the caucus with the central purpose to address issues affecting veterans in rural areas, explore opportunities to enhance access to health care for these veterans, and provide a forum for the exchange and discussion of ideas on how best to improve services for rural veterans. 


Hotdish Champion – Right to Bear Arms Hotdish

Senator Franken hosted the seventh annual Minnesota Congressional Hotdish Competition on Wednesday and my “Right to Bear Arms Hotdish” was declared the winner! The dish was prepared with bear meat from a bear shot by an Agriculture Committee staff member. It is an honor to be this year’s winner with a hotdish that recognizes the great outdoors. I appreciate Senator Franken’s work to continue this annual tradition and thank the other delegation members for the tasty hotdish.

Link to recipes:

Link to photos:

More information:

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that service at all of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers is now by appointment. Appointment service saves taxpayers time by ensuring they get the help they need without having to wait in line. 

Taxpayers can visit to find quick tax-related answers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant is an excellent resource to get answers to commonly-asked questions prior to this year’s tax filing deadline, April 18.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, a volunteer-led program that assists taxpayers with tax return preparation and e-filing, is currently offering assistance in Minnesota. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is available free to taxpayers with low and moderate income, with special attention to those 50 and older. Through a cadre of nearly 35,000 volunteers, trained and IRS-certified each year to ensure their knowledge of revisions to the U.S. tax code, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has helped low- to moderate-income individuals, 2.7 million in 2016 alone, for nearly 50 years in every state and the District of Columbia. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP. 

Find an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide location near you and find out more about this program at

This Week in American History

On March 7, 1882, the Minnesota State Butter and Cheese Association were organized. The association promoted the early stages of dairy farming in Minnesota and became well known for its success in the “grand sweepstakes” award for the best butter at the 1885 World Industrial and Centennial Exposition.

Spotted in the Seventh

Can YOU guess what was Spotted in the Seventh? Each week, the newsletter will feature a landmark or site somewhere in Western Minnesota. The first person to name the location wins! The location of the photo as well as the winner will be revealed in the next newsletter.

This week’s landmark is a comprehensive art exhibit including sculpture installations, interactive pavement-art, and flower boxes, all displayed on a public alleyway.

Congratulations to Heather Wright of Hutchinson for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the Hutchinson Brothers Statue at the Library Square Park in Hutchinson!

Share your guess on our website –

“Shy Girl”
Brianna Green (HALSTAD)