Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/13/2018

Apr 16, 2018 Issues: Energy, Financial Services, Transportation

The Fiene family (ECHO) visited my Washington, D.C. office this week

Dear Friends,

Access to affordable healthcare and dependable broadband services continue to be issues that I hear about across the district. This week, I introduced two bipartisan bills to make progress in these areas. Congressman Tipton (R-CO) joined me in introducing the Rural Hospital Frontier Fairness Act to provide hospitals with additional funding to hire staff and care for patients, and Congressman Cramer (R-ND) joined me in introducing the Office of Rural Telecommunications Act to establish an office at the FCC to coordinate federal funds and resources for rural broadband development. I was discouraged to see the Committee on Agriculture officially start down a dangerous path by moving to consider a partisan Farm Bill that fractures the coalition needed to get the strongest possible farm safety net signed into law. The bill fails to make the investments needed to support production agriculture and our rural communities. The Agriculture Committee has historically been a place about finding common ground to meet the needs of rural America. Moving a partisan bill is uncharted territory, and I will continue to urge agriculture, nutrition and conservation stakeholders to not burn bridges so we can put the pieces together after this effort runs its course.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Minnesota State Cattlemen Association

I sat down with members of the Minnesota State Cattlemen Association to discuss the need to prevent and respond to animal disease outbreaks, the status of the farm bill, potential trade retaliation against U.S. beef, and my bill that would allow livestock owners to protect their herds from predatory wolves.

Minnesota Pork Producers

The Minnesota Pork Producers visited me in Washington on Thursday to talk about a number of agriculture issues. We discussed their concerns with the recent Chinese tariffs negatively impacting pork exports as well as their priorities in the farm bill.

Minnesota Trucking Association

This week, representatives of the Minnesota Trucking Association visited my office to share their ideas to innovate and promote Minnesota’s trucking industry. The group also thanked me for my co-sponsorship of the DRIVE Safe Act to help strengthen Minnesota’s trucking workforce and for my efforts to clarify rules for interstate trucking. Truckers are integral to the economy of the 7th District, and I look forward to working with the Association in the future.

Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota

I met with members of the ICBM from across Minnesota. Throughout the Seventh District, local community banks are often the primary source people can rely on for adequate and trusted financial services. We had an informative discussion about banking regulations and the state of the rural economy. I appreciate the work they do in providing capital access to our rural communities.

University of Minnesota Extension

I met with a delegation from the University of Minnesota Extension as well as a 4-H youth member from the 7th District on Wednesday. The group was in Washington for a national public issues meeting and spent the day on Capitol Hill advocating for federal funding for agriculture. We talked about the current situation with the farm bill. I am a big supporter of Extension and of 4-H, and I appreciate the group's efforts to educate folks about the importance of these programs.

Minnesota Rural Electric Association

Electric cooperatives provide an essential service to rural communities so I always look forward to meeting with MREA. Cooperatives are working to expand access to dependable broadband services and deliver affordable electricity to homes and businesses.

Commodities Futures Trading Commission

Commodities Futures Trading Commissioner Brian Quintenz

I met with Brian Quintenz, who was recently named a Commissioner for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. We discussed the Commission’s recent Agricultural Advisory Committee meeting and conference in Kansas City. I invited the Commissioner to attend Farm Fest this summer to learn more about the rural economy.

North American Agriculture Journalists

I addressed members of the North American Agricultural Journalists on Tuesday morning and provided an update on the farm bill. I expressed my frustration and concern that the partisan policies pursued by the Majority threaten to blow up the bipartisan urban-rural coalition necessary to get a farm bill signed into law. We also discussed potential trade tariffs being imposed on agriculture.

Crop Insurance Reinsurance Bureau

On Tuesday, I met with crop insurance industry representatives to discuss their priorities for the farm bill. We talked about their concerns with the process, and I reiterated that crop insurance will be vulnerable to cuts now that the bipartisan farm bill coalition has been broken. Hopefully the farmers who depend on a strong risk management system will not be caught up in the damage done by this ideological farm bill.

Supermarket Fly-In

I met with business leaders, including representatives of the Minnesota Grocers Association, who were in town for the supermarket industry's annual "Day in Washington." This event is sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute and the National Grocers Association. We discussed SNAP and other issues impacting supermarkets.

Texas Corn Growers

A group of corn growers from Texas came by my office on Tuesday. The Texans shared their grave concerns with the Trump Administration’s budding trade war with China.  I think that if we’re bound for a confrontation on tariffs, programs like Price Loss Coverage ought to offer stronger assistance to farmers as prices fall. H.R. 2, the farm bill offered by Chairman Conaway, would only increase support if prices rise. Farm bills should provide adequate assistance during tough times rather than during the good times.

National Shooting Sports Foundation

Mark Foster, FosTech; Amanda Covington, Vista Outdoor; Robert Cicero, American Outdoor Brands Corp.; Russ Thurman, FMG Publications; Patrick Rothwell, NSSF

I met with members of the shooting sports industry to discuss the state of exports and conservation funding. I appreciate the work these folks do to preserve our hunting and fishing heritage, and the jobs they create here in Minnesota.

Students from the 7th

Students from Marshall County Central High School visited Capitol Hill this week, and I enjoyed talking to them about their experiences in Washington and their goals for the future.

Minnesota Farmers Union Rural Voices Discussions

This week, my staff attended the Minnesota Farmers Union’s Rural Voices Discussions that were held in Willmar, Detroit Lakes, Crookston and Ada. Attendees told stories of a changing farm economy and shared their ideas to improve conditions for farmers. They expressed concern for many issues that are pressing rural Minnesotans, such as commodity prices, the ethanol program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and buffer strips.

I thank the Minnesota Farmers Union for hosting these events and for organizing local producers to share information. I am working to resolve these difficult issues and promote policies that strengthen the rural economy.

The Maschhoffs

Dan Sprague, Julie Maschhoff, and Brian Foster with The Maschhoffs visited my Washington office this week to talk to my staff about issues impacting pork producers. They discussed the importance of trade and a reliable workforce, as well as the importance of a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank in the next farm bill.

Willmar Naturalization Ceremony

On Tuesday, my staff aides attended Willmar’s first ever naturalization ceremony. With Magistrate Judge David T. Schultz presiding, twenty-five individuals from ten different countries took the oath to become American citizens. The Barn Theater hosted the families, friends and community members who came to show their support. I, too, would like to congratulate and welcome our newest Americans.

Bemidji Area Forestry Affairs Council Meeting

The Bemidji Area Forestry Affairs Council met to plan for Forestry Day at the State Capitol today. Forestry Day will be held in Saint Paul on April 17th to educate lawmakers and the public on how to make good forest management decisions for the future of Minnesota’s forests.

Legislative Update

Farm Bill Released

On Thursday, Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway released a bill to reauthorize the farm bill. Unfortunately, the Chairman has chosen to pursue a partisan farm bill strategy that I worry could jeopardize both the passage of a new bill this year as well as future farm bills. It makes no sense to put the farmers and rural communities who rely on the farm bill’s safety net programs at risk in pursuit of partisan ideology. The Committee will mark up the bill next Wednesday.

Read my statement on the bill here.

I was a guest on Adams on Agriculture Friday morning to talk about the bill. You can listen to our conversation here.

Dairy Risk Management Act

On Wednesday, I released the Dairy Risk Management Act (H.R. 5462), legislation to provide dairy farmers with a strong safety net to address volatile conditions outside of their control. After spending the last two weeks hearing from dairy farmers in Minnesota and participating in a dairy forum in Albany, I was pleased to see this legislation included in the Majority’s farm bill.

Read the Agriculture Committee Democrats’ press release for more information about my new bill to help dairy farmers.

Rural Hospital Frontier Fairness Act

This week, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) joined me in introducing the bipartisan Rural Hospital Frontier Fairness Act to provide rural Sole Community Hospitals with increased funding for workforce development.  The legislation will also expand a crucial safety-net program to help these facilities direct resources at patients rather than overpriced medications.

Office of Rural Telecommunications Act

Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined me in introducing the bipartisan Office of Rural Telecommunications Act this week to establish an “Office of Rural Telecommunications” at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The office will help coordinate federal efforts to develop broadband services in rural communities and will serve as a resource for operators across the country.

This Week in American History

Map of the Minnesota Territory, 1857

On April 4, 1849, the inhabitants of Minnesota received word that the area had become a territory of the United States, a month after the bill was approved by President James K. Polk. Minnesota would not become a state until 1858.

What’s the Story?

This ‘Uff da’ bumper sticker hangs in my Washington, D.C. office. Uff da is an exclamation used by Minnesotans and others as an expression of surprise, exhaustion or relief. The saying is common in areas bearing residents of Scandinavian descent, mainly the Upper Midwest, New England and the Pacific Northwest.

Echo – Yellow Medicine County