Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/27/2015

Dear Friends,

At the heart of the growing ethanol industry is corn, leaving Minnesota well-positioned for national energy policy that supports the increased production of renewable fuel. I joined the Minnesota Corn Growers, American Ethanol Association, and more than 350 members of the Farm Bureau to discuss the many benefits of biofuels, including greater energy independence and improved air quality. I also visited with Minnesotans from the Alzheimer's Association, and welcomed students from the Hawley chapter of the Close-Up Foundation to Washington. This newsletter also includes an important announcement regarding farm bill safety-net program selection.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Farm Bureau

Joann and Arlyn Groth (Dakota), Barry and Sandy Nelson (HANCOCK), Carolyn and Jonathon Olson (COTTONWOOD), Larry and Sharon Larson (Sargeant), Loren Molenaar (PENNOCK), Mike and Connie Gunderson (BEJOU), Joe Sullivan (FRANKLIN), Kevin Paap (Garden City)

On Tuesday, I sat down with Minnesota Farm Bureau members to talk about a variety of issues, including gray wolves, trade, and GMO labeling.

On Wednesday, I was interviewed by AgriTalk host Mike Adams before 350 Farm Bureau members from Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa and Texas. I discussed USDA’s implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill’s new dairy program, pending trade agreements, the Renewable Fuels Standard and EPA overreach. The interview will air on AgriTalk next week.

Marvin Windows and Doors

Often times EPA regulators don’t anticipate the adverse effects of their regulations. Steve Tourek, Brad Fevold, Jim Krahn, and Kevin McKenney from Marvin Windows and Doors stopped by my office to talk about ways to address the extra costs that EPA rules impose on local Minnesota businesses.

Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association

Tim Nolte (Sebeka), Ashley Kohls (HUTCHINSON), and John Chute (Aitkin)

Members of the MN State Cattlemen’s Association came to Washington to go over issues important to Minnesota ranchers, including proposed dietary guidelines and the recent announcement regarding the gray wolf depredation program. Ranchers who lose cattle due to predatory wolves need options to deal with threats to their livelihoods.

Alzheimer's Association

On Wednesday, I met with members of the Minnesota Chapter of Alzheimer's Association. As someone with family members impacted by this condition, I am closely familiar with the fight for a cure. I attended the walk in Willmar last fall to support those living with Alzheimer's and their families. Back in Washington, D.C., I have supported legislation to bolster federal efforts to diagnose and treat Alzheimer's through Medicare coverage and also streamline efforts at the National Institute of Health to work on finding a cure for this all-too-common disease.

Close-Up Foundation

I was pleased to meet with students from  Greenbush-Middle River, Red Lake, and New York Mills as part of their Close-Up Foundation trip to Washington. While on their trip, the students visit Washington and participate in mock-Congresses to debate current issues, visit with lawmakers and staff to discuss our work on the Hill, and tour the sights around Washington. I thoroughly enjoy meeting with them each time they visit, and I always feel inspired by the next generation’s desire to engage in the public discourse. I wish these students the best of luck in their studies and careers.

Community Action

I met with members of the Community Action organizations across the 7th district, including Lakes and Prairies Community Action and West Central Community Action, among others. We discussed the fine work they do in Western Minnesota to assist with child and elderly services, housing, and educational programs. These individuals work tirelessly to better their communities throughout Minnesota, and I look forward to hearing of their continued success.

National Association of Federally Impacted Schools

Lisa Weber, Jeff Bisek, Roy Nelson, Tina Stately, Rick Haaland

NAFIS, the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, visited my office to discuss the importance of Impact Aid, and funding of educational agencies on Native American lands. These funds are of immense importance to tribal schools, and we must continue to do our part to insure these schools have everything they need to thrive. I appreciate the efforts of this organization to ensure quality education for the students they represent.

Minnesota Corn Growers

Adam Birr (Executive Director, Rosemount), Tom Haag (Eden Valley), Noah Hultgren (Vice President, RAYMOND), Bruce Peterson (President, Northfield), Anna Boroff (Burnsville)

On Tuesday I met with the Minnesota Corn Growers in the Capitol. Despite some of the headwinds of low commodity prices and uncertainty with the RFS, the Minnesota Corn Growers were optimistic about the future of agriculture in Minnesota. We talked about the importance of having a long term farm bill in place, and the need for other areas of the government to also provide more certainty. I will continue to work with the corn growers and others in agriculture to fight against attacks on farm safety net programs and ethanol.

American Coalition of Ethanol

I sat down with members of the American Coalition of Ethanol on Wednesday to discuss advancements made in the ethanol industry. The demand for ethanol has encouraged farmers to make technological advancements in corn seed to increase their yield, resulting in overall improved efficiencies in land use. I will continue to support ethanol as it decreases our dependence on fossil fuels and supports farming in greater Minnesota.

Lamb and Wool Producers

I met with several Minnesota lamb and wool producers this past week in Washington. President John Dvorak discussed the importance of Wildlife Services funding and thanked me for my help in securing the wolf management funds that were just announced in Minnesota. The producers also asked about the possibility of immigration reform this year and requested help in talking with the Forest Service on the Bighorn sheep situation.

Tourette Syndrome Association

On Wednesday, I met Austin Strowbridge, who is the 2015 Youth Ambassador for the Minnesota Chapter of Tourette Syndrome Association. Austin thanked me for signing onto a letter in support of appropriations for Tourette Syndrome Public Health, Education, and Research Program at the Centers for Disease Control. We talked about his trip to Washington, D.C., and he said he was thinking of working for Congress when he grows up. It's always great to see young folks like Austin getting engaged on an issue to make our country a better place.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

On Monday my staff aide Natalie Winters met with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation members from Minnesota. JDRF works to remove the impact of type 1 diabetes on people's lives and reduce the prevalence of this condition. They shared personal stories about their children who live with this condition and how it impacts their families. One of the issues discussed was the importance of Congress making reforms to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate, a measure that I supported in the House on Thursday.

National Arts Action Summit

Representatives from the National Arts Action Summit visited my staff this week to discuss public policies for the arts and education. Nearly 3,500 people work to promote and strengthen artistic participation in the 7th District, which is home to more than one-thousand arts-related businesses. In addition to the economic and cultural import of the arts, the meeting detailed artistic engagement programs that can improve health and well-being in military healthcare settings.

Mid-West Electric

Mid-West Electric is more than 250 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities located in the Upper Great Plains, some of which serve the western half of Minnesota. My staff aide Zach Martin met with representatives of Mid-West to discuss system reliability, environmental issues, cyber security, and transmission line construction.

Associated Milk Producers

More than 400 members and guests attended the Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI) annual meeting in Bloomington this week. The New Ulm-based dairy cooperative reported 2014 sales of $2.2 billion, 80 percent of which came from butter and cheese. AMPI has 2,500 member farms which produced, processed, and packaged 5.8 billion pounds of milk across ten AMPI plants in 2014. AMPI provides its products to food service, retail, and ingredient customers.

Education Minnesota

Doug Ryant (MAHNOMEN), Jim Meyer (Education Minnesota), Brett Frafford-Olson (WHEATON), Connie Wood (DETROIT LAKES), Lisa Provo (DETROIT LAKES), Jerome Holicky (FERGUS FALLS)

On Monday, my aide Allison Myhre met with educators from Mahnomen, Fergus Falls, Wheaton and Detroit Lakes to hear about reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The attendees shared concerns about the current ESEA proposal and students taking too many standardized tests. Allison was happy to reconnect with her former Fergus Falls High School math teacher Mr. Holicky.

Legislative Update

Agriculture Committee

It was a busy week on the House Agriculture Committee. The Committee held five hearings to review a wide range of issues.

On Tuesday morning, the full Committee held a hearing to review mandatory biotechnology laws. This is an issue that I hope that we can find a way to address because if we don’t we’re going to have 50 states with 50 different labeling programs and that’s just not going to work. Consumers have expressed their interest in knowing more about where their food comes from which I think is a good thing. But when it comes to labeling we need to be able to find a smart way to balance this consumer demand with what we know about the safety of the foods that our farmers produce. If done correctly I think we can find a workable solution.

In the afternoon, the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit held a hearing to hear end-user views in advance of reauthorizing the CFTC. End-users are important players in the futures markets and it is necessary to hear from them as we move ahead with CFTC reauthorization. The Subcommittee met again Wednesday afternoon to hear from CFTC market participants.

On Wednesday morning, the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture met for an update on country of origin labeling, or COOL. This is an issue we’ve been looking at for a long time and we are currently awaiting a ruling from the WTO to see what the next steps could be.

And on Thursday morning the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing on the status of farm bill implementation. Farm program signup is currently underway and while things are probably more complicated than we had hoped, farmers seem willing to learn. USDA, by and large, is doing a good job of getting them the information they need to make the right decision for their farms.

SGR Reform Passes House

This week, the House passed a long-term, permanent solution to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. I have been pushing for Congress to stop kicking the can down the road with these "doc fix" patches every few years, and I was glad to join the strong, bipartisan consensus that led this legislation to passage. These reforms are widely supported by a range of medical professionals, from hospitals to doctors to private businesses. I am hopeful that the Senate can take up this measure soon before the current short-term patch expires so we can resolve this issue once and for all.

ARC and PLC Deadline Extension

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack annuonced the deadline extension for safety-net program selection this week,  allowing farm owners to choose either Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverge (PLC) by April 7. Additional information regarding both 2014 Farm Bill protection programs is available at local FSA county offices.

Congressional Art Competition

Submissions for the 2015 Congressional Art Competition are still being accepted by my office. The winning piece, selected in early May, will help decorate the Cannon Tunnel between the House Office Buildings and the U.S. Capitol for one year. Application, eligibility, and artwork specifications are available online. The deadline for all submissions is Friday, April 24, 2015.

Discovering the 7th

The restoration of the Forest City Stockade, a Bicentennial Meeker County project, brings history to life in a two-story museum dedicated to settlers in central Minnesota. The stockade, originally constructed in 1862, also features historic buildings, pioneer activities, and period rituals performed by reenactors. 

This Week in American History

On March 23, 1823, Minnesota was among the first states to ratify the twenty-sixth amendment to the Constitution. This amendment, awarding citizens over the age of 18 years the right to vote in local, state, and national elections, was ratified by a necessary number of states for legal execution the following year. Both Minnesota and Delaware claim to be the initial actor on this significant measure.

Visitors from the District

Duane, Katherine, Grant, and Kayla Grochow (COKATO), Harriet Splettstoeszer (DELANO), and Paul Carlson (COKATO)

Close-Up Foundation Student Visit (HAWLEY)

Alivia, Lois, Joe, and Andrew Pederson (BARNESVILLE), Colleen Murray (MOORHEAD)

Glen and Sharon Arfstrom (WILLMAR), Roger and Barb Baker (WILLMAR)