Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/23/2018


Central Boiler (GREENBUSH) employees celebrate the passage of my wood heater bill, H.R. 453.

Dear Friends,

After passing a tax bill costing more than two trillion dollars, and agreeing today to a massive increase in federal spending for this fiscal year, Congress singled out one group for a tax increase - farmers. This retroactive tax hike was slipped into the government funding bill to address the ‘grain glitch’ that resulted from the rushed partisan tax bill. While a solution was needed to address the massive distortion in agriculture markets which pit co-ops against private businesses, the ‘fix’ will create its own distortions hurting certain co-ops and penalizing some farmers based on how they are structured. This is just wrong. Congress has shirked their responsibility to control spending and ceded their voice to Congressional leadership which made all the decisions in the 2,000 plus page bill without any opportunity for amendments. As your member of Congress, I can’t support such a broken process and will fight to ensure your voice is heard.

Sincerely,

Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Secretary Perdue Visits Moorhead

I joined Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to tour the American Crystal Sugar processing plant in Moorhead earlier this month. The Secretary and I toured the facility to see the different stages of the production process, and to discuss the important issues facing the sugar industry. The Secretary plays an important role in administering the sugar program, and visiting facilities like the American Crystal Sugar plant is a great opportunity to show how important the sugar program is to farmers and workers.

Minnesota Milk Producers


Minnesota: Dave Buck, Shelly DePestel, Marianne Peterson, and Garrett Luthens (HUTCHINSON); Iowa: Lee Maassen and Gary Kregel; South Dakota: Marv Post and Randy Gross, Jr.; Nebraska: Bill Thielle, Brooke Engelman, and Roger Sprakel; Staff: Lucas Sjostrom (BROOTEN), Rod Johnson (Nebraska), Mitch Schulte (Iowa), Bob Lefebvre (Minnesota), and Trudy Wastweet (Minnesota)

Representatives from the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, joined by producers and staff from South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa, visited my Washington office. We talked about my proposed improvements for dairy programs, the status of the farm bill, trade concerns with Canada, and agricultural labor issues. We also discussed the Sec. 199 tax issue. I appreciated our discussion and I will continue to work on policy that helps dairy producers, especially now given the tough market conditions that many producers are facing.

Minnesota Corn Growers Association

On Wednesday, I met with members of Minnesota Corn Growers Association, who were joined by a few of their friends from the Southwest Council of Agribusiness. We talked about the efforts underway to address the problems brought about by the changes to Section 199 in the tax bill, as well as the threat of a partisan farm bill. The meeting was a good chance to discuss the common problems for farmers at home and around the country.

Minnesota Soil and Water Conservation Districts


(Left to right) Dennis Fuchs; Curtis Elke, Stearns Soil & Water Conservation District; Acting State Con, Ian Cunningham, a National Association of Conservation Districts Executive Board member from Pipestone; and Doug Thomas, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff play a critical role in the successful delivery of USDA’s voluntary conservation programs. A good relationship between farmers and NRCS field staff can yield immeasurable conservation benefits and help farmers better manage their resources. The Minnesota Soil and Water Conservation Districts are strong supporters of Farm Bill conservation programs, and I will continue to work with them to keep these programs strong. Minnesota Acting Conservationist Curtis Elke also provided an update about the progress they have made to reduce the wetland determination backlog.

Joel Paulsen – Moorhead City Council

Moorhead City Council Member Paulsen visited my office to discuss the status of the ongoing conversations about how to permit and build flood protection for Fargo. There have been a lot of missteps in this process, but it is promising that stakeholders have completed the technical sessions and are moving closer to finding a solution that is in compliance with Minnesota law and provides needed flood protection. Joel has a background in city engineering, and we had a good discussion about some of the many factors that can help reduce the impact of a flood protection project.

Red Lake Band of Chippewa

This week, I met with Chairman Seki of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians to address security concerns on their lands. They shared with me the successes of the Red Lake Drug Task Force, while highlighting other challenges the tribal nations face when enforcing laws on their land. We discussed what can be done to assist local authorities as they work to keep tribal communities safe.

Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA)

Marvin Windows and Doors is a company headquartered in Warroad which provides a number of manufacturing jobs. My district is searching for skilled workers at manufacturing facilities like Marvin Windows and Doors. High School students should be encouraged to enter technical colleges where they can learn the skills and trades that their communities so desperately need.

American Coalition for Ethanol


Dave Nagler (BENSON), Michael Nagler (BENSON), and Pat Buckwater (Mantorville)

The Renewable Fuel Standard is working to boost corn prices, which is more important now than ever. The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) visited Washington to advocate for policies that protect investments made in biofuels plants. As a co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, I met with USDA Secretary Perdue last week and argued that the RFS program should be maintained and protected for the future of our farmers, I appreciate ACE’s work in educating fellow Congressional members on the economic importance of biofuels.

LeadMN

I met with a group of students from LeadMN this week to hear their perspective on the needs of Minnesota’s two-year colleges. LeadMN provides opportunities for tuition assistance, professional development, and advocacy experience to the more than 18,000 students it represents across the state.

American Cotton Shippers Association

Two representatives from the American Cotton Shippers Association came by my office on Thursday to raise concerns about trade. They outlined the challenges that cotton exporters face from foreign competitors and offered some suggestions how our farm policies can help to boost our standing in the global cotton marketplace.

Mid-West Electric Consumers Association


Kory Johnson (BENSON), Bill Schwandt (MOORHEAD), and Vernell Roberts (DETROIT LAKES)

The Mid-West Electric Consumers Association monitors the rates charged by the Western Area Power Administration, which directly impacts the electricity bills for Minnesota home and business owners. I applaud the efforts at Mid-West Electric to advocate on behalf of consumers who depend on affordable and reliable electricity everyday. This is a major reason why I signed a letter asking the House Budget Committee to reject any efforts to sell off Power Marketing Administration transmission assets, which would only result in more expensive electricity bills to my constituents.

LeadingAge


Berit Spors (Ecumen, HUTCHINSON), Jon Riewer (Eventide Senior Living Communities, DETROIT LAKES), Adam Suomala (Saint Paul)

This week, I met with Minnesotan representatives of LeadingAge to discuss senior care. LeadingAge is the largest association of organizations helping to improve home care, independent senior housing, assisted living communities, and skilled nursing facilities for Minnesota’s seniors.

340B Health


Duane Wallace (Director of Pharmacy Services, Sanford Perham Health)

Advocates from 340B Health visited my office this week to discuss the impact of safety-net providers and programs that help keep the cost of prescription drugs low. There are more 40 rural critical-care hospitals that serve low-income patients in the 7th District, and many depend on the 340B drug pricing program to provide affordable medications. I will continue to support programs like 340B as we work to ensure quality care for all Minnesotans.

National Association of Development Organizations


Jay Trusty (‎Southwest Regional Development Commission) and Dawn Hegland (Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission)

I met with Jay Trusty and Dawn Hegland this week to discuss the legislative priorities of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Both Jay and Dawn are both involved in rural development initiatives across the 7th District, and I look forward to working with them to strengthen the economy and infrastructure of greater Minnesota.

Community Action Agencies

On Thursday, I met with leaders from several local Community Action Agencies (CAA), including West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc. from Elbow Lake and the Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership based in Moorhead. CAA’s all over the country provide job training programs, educational assistance, food assistance, and help folks navigate energy and housing programs. These partnerships are paving the way for healthier stronger communities and I look forward to their continued successes.

Impact Aid

I sat down with representatives of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) this week to discuss Federal Impact Aid for schools on tribal lands. Impact Aid provides critical funding to these schools for facility renovation, teacher retention, and student transportation. In the most recent appropriations cycle, I urged my colleagues to provide strong support for the program.  

Students from the 7th


Osakis High School / Hawley Public School

I was honored to welcome students from Osakis High School and Hawley Public School to Washington, D.C. as part of the Close Up foundation visits. I always enjoy meeting with students who have a passion for politics and policy and I appreciate their views on our work in Congress. 

National Association of Convenience Stores


Scott Hill, Vice President of Sales CPG Food for Jack Links (Minneapolis), Lonnie J. McQuirter, Director of Operations, 36Lyn Refuel Station (Minneapolis)

My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with representatives of Minnesota’s convenience stores who were in town for the National Association of Convenience Stores annual conference. They discussed the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to both their customers and their stores, noting that convenience stores are sometimes the only stores stocking food for miles. In Minnesota’s 7th district alone, there are 471 convenience stores representing more than 7,500 employees and almost $1.7 billion in total sales.

Association of Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations (Ampers)


Mark Johnson, Thief River Falls Station Manager / Ampers locations in Minnesota

The Association of Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations (AMPERS) is a little known fixture in Minnesota. Ampers is a collection of 18 independent community radio stations in Minnesota. Each station is locally managed, programed by and for the local communities they serve. Ampers stations carry a range of programing across thirteen languages. In a recent report, Ampers stated their member stations created more than 3000 programs and that more than 100,000 people attended live events the stations produced or co-produced. Ampers stations play an important role in public safety by alerting the public of storms and dangers that may occur in their localities.

A member of my staff visited the local Ampers station KSRQ 90.1 FM at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls. I support these community radio stations and value their insight into local communities as I travel around the 7th district.

Red River Annual Joint Conference

The Red River Watershed Management Board and the Red River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Work Group celebrated their 20th Annual Conference with the largest number of registrations ever. The morning started with a meeting of the Environmental Quality Board (EQB). The EQB is made up of 9 state agency heads and 5 citizen members, who also met with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. The watershed districts explained their projects and former Minnesota Senator Roger Moe gave a speech on the “Celebration of 20 Years of the Mediation Agreement.

National Agriculture Day 2018

National Ag Day was celebrated this Tuesday, March 20. Ag Day is an annual celebration recognizing the work that American farmers and ranchers do to provide the world with an abundance of natural products. This year’s theme “Food for Life,” focused on agriculture as a source for safe, plentiful, and affordable products, as a positive force in the local and national economy, and as an important part of combatting world hunger. Ag Day intends to teach people where the foods they eat come from and about the work that goes into producing them. It is important for people to recognize the work of our nation’s producers, as our national strength relies on robust and reliable sources of food.

Sioux Falls Veterans Town Hall

My staff assistant Meg Louwagie attended a Veterans Town Hall meeting in Sioux Falls this week. Living Vietnam Veterans who were on active duty from November 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975 were recognized and granted a commemorative lapel pin for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Newsstand

USDA “Community Connect” Grants

USDA is now accepting applications for grants to fund broadband development in underserved areas. State and local governments, federally recognized tribes, non-profits, and for-profit corporations may apply online for grants through May 14. Applicants must be able to provide a 15% match on the desired grant amount.

2018 National Veterans Golden Age Games

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will begin accepting applications on April 2 from Veterans interested in competing in the 2018 National Veterans Golden Age Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Aug. 3-8.

Veterans ages 55 and older who are eligible for VA health care benefits may complete applications online through May 2 at www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov

Nearly 800 athletes are expected to compete in the national multi-sport competition for senior Veterans. The event encourages participants to make physical activity a central part of their lives, and supports VA’s comprehensive recreation and rehabilitation therapy programs.

For more information, visit www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov

This Week in American History


“Grace” - Minnesota’s State Photograph, taken by Eric Enstrom in 1918

On March 22, 2002, Governor Jesse Ventura signed a law designating the image known as "Grace" the official state photograph. The photograph was taken by Swedish American photographer Eric Enstrom in 1918. It depicts an elderly man bowing his head and giving thanks.

What’s the Story?

This “Cracking the Kernel” display can be found in my Washington, D.C. office. It holds several co-products of the ethanol manufacturing process, including corn syrup, dry distillers grains, corn distillers oil, and carbon dioxide gas. Ethanol is a renewable fuel source that can be burned alone, or as an additive to gasoline. Minnesota’s 20 ethanol plants produce more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol annually.


Brandon – Douglas County