Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/18/2016

March 18, 2016

Sunset in Albany

Dear Friends,

This busy week brought constituents from across the 7th to Washington to talk about funding priorities for the 2017 fiscal year. I met with groups advocating for work training programs, forest fire prevention, Native American education, and medical research for Multiple Sclerosis and juvenile diabetes. I will keep supporting programs that make a difference in Minnesota as the House begins considering federal appropriations bills. Additionally, the Agriculture Committee held two hearings this week to review the work done by USDA and efforts to prevent foreign pests and disease. Finally, I was proud to support National Ag Day by welcoming Minnesota students and agriculture industry representatives to discuss how we can continue to help the agriculture community thrive.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Minnesota National Guard

Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Richard Nash, General Sandra Best, and Colonel Angie Steward-Randle

The Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Richard Nash came by the office to give me an update on the Guard's legislative priorities for this year. General Nash presented me with the Seal of the Guard which I will proudly display in the office. I was additionally presented a ‘Chef Peterson Apron’ from the Serving the Troops project which formed a group of community and business leaders interested in supporting our deployed Guard units. This group provides a delicious meal to soldiers and their families while raising awareness of Minnesota’s unprecedented military service during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Agriculture Future of America / FFA / 4-H

Mariah Daninger (Forest Lake), Kyla Mauk (Howard Lake), Kennedy Jannsen (Jackson), Sam Johnson (Glenville), Brian Prchal (WILLMAR)

Students representing Agriculture Future of America (AFA), 4-H, and FFA visited the Capitol on Tuesday to celebrate National Ag Day and advocate for American agriculture.  I was happy to have several of the Minnesota students visit my office.  The National Ag Day program seeks to share the story of agriculture so that every American can understand and appreciate how our food, fiber, and fuel is produced.

Kyla Mauk: Princess Kay of the Milky Way


While Kyla Mauk was visiting my office with Agriculture Future of America (AFA), we were happy to learn she is the reigning “Princess Kay of the Milky Way,” the title (selected in a Department of Agriculture contest almost sixty years ago) given to Minnesota’s dairy princess each year. Moreover, when looking through our office’s decorations, she found a thank you card she sent as Minnesota FFA president several years ago. I’m always happy to see our constituents involved in the agriculture community, and I look forward to continuing to highlight their accomplishments.

Army Corps of Engineers / USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service / Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts

On Wednesday, I met with the Army Corps of Engineers for an update on a number of projects in the district. Colonel Daniel C. Koprowski, Commander of the St. Paul District Corps of Engineers, and Judy DesHarnais, Deputy for Programs and Project Management, discussed a number of projects including the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion, the flood mapping problem in Breckenridge, and progress on the Marsh Lake project.

My next meeting was with NRCS State Conservationist Cathee Pullman, who joined the meeting with the Army Corps to talk about how the agencies are working together on some flood control issues, including the water retention projects in the Red River Valley.

Cathee, along with Ian Cunningham, President of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Angie Becker Kudelka with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), were in town for the National Association of Conservation District’s Spring Fly-In. We talked about a number of issues, including protecting farm bill conservation spending, how controlled drainage management can help address a number of environmental challenges and create more high quality wildlife habitat, and the latest on buffers.

At the end of the day, Minnesota farmers need all the agencies that permit projects or support voluntary conservation efforts to be working together. I enjoy bringing folks together to hash out issues like I was able to do this week. 

Rural Minnesota CEP

Standing: Ben Baglio, Brad Green, Janet Green, Dan Wenner, and Karen Wenner
Seated:  Steve Anderson, Carol Anderson

This week I met with representatives from the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program to discuss funding for work training programs. These training programs are vital to creating jobs in Western Minnesota and enable workers young and old to continue expanding career opportunities in the 7th District. I commend these folks on their continuing efforts for rural Minnesota’s working communities.

Agriculture Producers

Rich Ratka (HUTCHINSON), Blaine Schmidt, Kurt Wulf (MORRIS), Ron Stock

Several of DeKalb's sales representatives and their farmer customers from the 7th District were in Washington to meet agricultural leaders.  We discussed a number of agriculture and tax issues impacting agriculture producers.  One of the producers in the group, Kurt Wulf, grows sugarbeets and grain and raises livestock with his son in Morris. It’s always good to meet with farmers and others in the industry to hear about what is affecting them.

American Soybean Association

I met with Richard Wilkins, president of the American Soybean Association, on Thursday. Wilkins is a farmer from Delaware and we discussed the challenges he and other soybean growers are facing in today's farm economy. 

Impact Aid

This week I met with representatives from the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) to discuss the state of impact aid for schools on tribal lands. We continue to work toward providing funding that addresses education needs for Native American students. We discussed the status of funding, my continued support, and the repairs needed for the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school in Bena. I enjoy meeting with the NAFIS representatives each year and the opportunity to wear my “famous” Ponemah hat.

American Seed Trade Association

Kim Alberty, Garth Kaste (Fertile), Matt Fenske

On Tuesday, I met with the American Seed Trade Association whose members were in Washington, D.C. for their annual fly-in. We discussed the Conservation Reserve Program and its important impact on pollinator habitat. Additionally, we talked about cover cropping for soil health. I look forward to continuing to help protect seed trade and its vital role in American agriculture.

National Association of Postmasters of the United States

This week I met with the familiar faces of Postmasters to address needed Postal Service reforms. Steps need to be taken for the Postal Service to remain financially viable, yet I will not compromise when it comes to maintaining service for rural America.  I will continue to work to maintain service standards, ensure six day delivery, and protect rural post offices and processing centers.

Hedstrom Lumber and Cloquet Mill

Gary Erickson (Cloquet) and Howard Hedstrom (Grand Marais)

On Thursday, I met with Gary Erickson and Howard Hedstrom to discuss forest fire budget fixes the House is considering this year along with other issues affecting the lumber industry. It is important that the U.S. Forest Service has the necessary funds to battle forest fires in order to mitigate their devastating effects.

Minnesota Community Action

This week I met with leaders from Community Action Agencies across the 7th District to discuss their needs in western Minnesota. From support of the community services and community development block grants to continued support of the Head Start program and weatherization funding, I will continue to do what I can to help these organizations to continue to meet the needs of the people of the 7th District.

Multiple Sclerosis Society

Marie van Uitert, Sally Gibbs, Maggie Flanagan, Dan Endreson, Kimberli Baltzer

Minnesotans representing the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society visited my office with an update in the fight against MS. The group talked about the importance of funding research to help find a cure and thanked me for my support of the 21st Century Cures Act, which will do just that. They also talked about the need to get the staggering costs of prescription medicines under control.


Sharon Perrone, Thom Weir, Paul Fixen

My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with a “Tri-Societies” group representing the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of Agronomy, and Soil Science Society of America.  They were in town to talk about the importance of agriculture research funding and were pleased to hear of my support for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Minnesota volunteers from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation visited my office this week to advocate for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). The SDP supports research to prevent and cure type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and helps secure grants for diabetic services in Tribal and Urban Indian health programs. Diabetes is an increasingly common disease in Minnesota, and I will work to help ensure that the SDP is renewed before it expires next year.

Minnesota Soybean Growers

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association stopped by my office to discuss a number of issues of importance to the industry, including GMO labeling, trade, WOTUS, and biodiesel production tax credits.  The Minnesota Soybean Grower Association is a non-profit formed in 1962 by a group of soybean farmers in order to monitor policies affecting the industry as well as support research and development activities. 

Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers

Rhonda Degelau, Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, met with my staff this week to discuss her organization’s efforts to provide primary care, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services to underserved areas. Community health centers are an asset to rural communities and economies, and I support measures to extend their continued funding.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores

Tim Weippert (Chief Operations Officer), Jeff Lindoo (Vice President, Governmental & Regulatory Affairs), Dave Reuter (Executive Vice President, Personnel & Privacy Officer)

Representatives from Thrifty White Pharmacy visited my office this week on behalf of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) to express their support for legislation that maintains access to retail pharmacies and affordable medications. I am a co-sponsor of both the “Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act” and the “Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act,” and I will continue to support the more than 30 Thrifty White locations that serve the 7th District.   

Minnesota Lamb and Wool

Steve Schreier, John Brandon Dvorak, and John Dvorak

The Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association were in Washington on Wednesday for their annual D.C. fly in. They thanked me for my opposition to the WOTUS rule and my support for federal funds to control problem wolves. They also discussed additional appropriations requests for the Scrapie eradication program, wolf management funding, and USDA’s Agriculture Research Services.

Southwest Council of Agribusiness

Representatives from the Southwest Council of Agribusiness came by this week. We talked about the credit situation for farmers and the troubled cotton industry. 

Waterways Council

Barges traveling along the Mississippi River are a vital part of our transportation system that help to keep U.S. farmers the most competitive in the world. The Waterways Council represents businesses that have a stake in this transportation system. The group expressed their concerns about proposals that would hurt Minnesota farmers by disproportionately raising shipping costs for users furthest upstream. They also talked about the importance of Congress passing the Water Resources Development Act and the need to provide robust and consistent funding to repair our country’s locks and dams.

Legislative Update

Two-Day Hearing

The Agriculture Committee met Thursday and Friday this week for a two-day hearing to examine USDA organization and program administration. USDA officials from the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services; Food Safety; and Rural Development mission areas testified Thursday. The Committee heard from Natural Resources and Environment; Food and Foreign Agriculture; Research, Education and Economics; and Marketing & Regulatory mission areas on Friday. A lot of folks don’t know the full scope of the work done by USDA and this hearing was an opportunity for both the general public and Committee members to gain a fuller picture of this important work.

Joint Subcommittee Hearing

The Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research and the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a joint hearing Tuesday to examine efforts to defend American agriculture against foreign pests and diseases. Providing protections from disease and pests is one of the most important jobs done by USDA, and it can’t be done without the cooperation of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP). During the hearing, a beagle from CBP’s Beagle Brigade provided a demonstration of how the beagles help to protect the nation’s food supply.


National Ag Day

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) set up National Agriculture Day to recognize and celebrate American agriculture. On March 15, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies, and countless other across America join together to recognize agriculture’s contributions. ACA believes every American should understand how food and fiber products are produced; appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products; and value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy. ACA also wants Americans to acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, and fiber industries.  

Discovering the 7th

In the Beltrami Island State Forest, there is a timber harvest logged into an outline of Minnesota. This forest, managed by the DNR Division of Forestry, employs foresters to design timber harvests; the forester who designed this timber sale is credited with creating the boundary line with only a map, hip chain, and a compass. The area was originally logged in the mid 1990s and the resulting re-growth created the image you see today.

This Week in American History

The United States Military Academy–the first military school in the United States– was founded by Congress for the purpose of educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science. Located at West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Military Academy is often simply known as West Point. In 1870, the first African-American cadet was admitted into the U.S. Military Academy, and in 1976, the first female cadets. The academy is now under the general direction and supervision of the department of the U.S. Army and has an enrollment of more than 4,000 students.

Beltrami Island State Forest