Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/15/2016

Apr 15, 2016 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Energy

Lake of the Woods

Dear Friends,

The Agriculture Committee held hearings on the state of the rural economy, discussing the impacts of oil and gas production and challenges facing farmers and rural communities. Farmers are facing real challenges, and I appreciated the opportunity to hear their stories. I met with Minnesota farmers and the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce to further discuss the rural economy and joined Minnesota Independent Agents and Brokers and the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau to discuss crop insurance in the upcoming farm bill. Additionally, as a 4-H kid myself, I was pleased to welcome students with the 4-H program for their national conference to discuss issues with the next generation of leaders.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau

On Tuesday, representatives from the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau (CIRB) came by my office. We discussed their important role in providing risk management opportunities for farmers. We're heading into a challenging financial time for agriculture, and we'll need to keep crop insurance strong.


Nina Buchanan (MONTEVIDEO), Klariss Walvatne (BATTLE LAKE), Hartyn Novacek (GREENBUSH)

On Wednesday, I met with a delegation of 4-H youth and University of Minnesota Extension educators who were in town for the National 4-H Conference.  We talked about the importance of federal funding for agriculture, and I listened to an update on their Washington visit thus far.  4-H is a great youth development program, and I am continually impressed with the young people I meet who are involved in 4-H. 

Minnesota Cattlemen Association

Tim & Rita Nolte (Sebeka), Karlie Breitkreutz (Redwood Falls), Ashley Kohls (Hutchinson), John Chute (Aitkin)

I met with the Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association this week. They were in town for their annual fly-in. We discussed the Trans Pacific Partnership and the impact that would have on the beef market and also touched on their efforts on antibiotic stewardship, GMOs, and grazing on public lands.

Thief River Falls Close Up

Each year, the Close Up program brings high school students from across the country, including schools in the Seventh, to visit Washington, D.C. This week I met students from Thief River Falls. I enjoy getting to meet students from western Minnesota each year. I take pleasure in knowing that our students are so engaged in their studies and in public policy. I wish them the best of luck in their studies.

St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce

L-R: David Borgert, Jeremy Wacker, Scott Mareck, Jason Bernick, Nik Maeder

I met with members of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce discuss the local economic outlook, transportation, broadband deployment and healthcare. With so much going on, from tax policy to efforts to reduce regulatory burdens, I will continue to work with local Chambers on common sense ideas that will strengthen our economy.

Minnesota Cable Communications Associations

Dan Nelson & Tom Simmons of Midco, LeeAnn Herrera of Charter, Theresa Sunde of Mediacom and Michael Martin, Executive Director of the Minnesota Cable Communications associations visited the offices to discussed broadband deployment and FCC regulations.

National Shooting Sport Foundation

This week I met with representatives from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, including Randy Molde of FMG Publications, Kenyon Gleason of the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers, Dennis Veilleux of Colt's Manufacturing Company, Josh Dorsey of Glock, Heather Bennett of Otis Technology, Rocky Krivijanski of Vista Outdoor, and Seth Waugh of the NSSF. We discussed a number of issues facing the firearms industry, from the exportation of civilian firearms so they may remain competitive on the global market to current legislation. We also discussed the upcoming Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation Congressional Shootout, which brings industry and Members of Congress together for a friendly competition.

Minnesota Independent Agents and Brokers

This week I met with members of the Minnesota Independent Agents and Brokers to discuss the state of insurance in Minnesota and the status of crop insurance under the Farm Bill. We addressed many common misconceptions about the crop insurance program and the recent developments regarding flood insurance, especially around the Red River Valley. I appreciate the work they do to keep Minnesotans protected in the event of a natural disaster in the state.

Land Stewardship Project

This week I had a chance to sit down with members of the Land Stewardship Project. We talked about ways we can build on efforts in the 2014 Farm Bill to make conservation and risk management programs work better for family farmers. One of the greatest challenge we have in agriculture is how we transition to the next generation of farmers. This is a complex challenge, and there isn’t just one program or initiative to help do this. That is why we need a comprehensive effort to make sure family farmers can access the credit, risk management and conservation tools they need to thrive and carry on the great tradition of agriculture we have in Minnesota.

Minnesota Farm Bureau

Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap and Associate Director Amber Hanson stopped by my Washington office to visit with my staff aide Rebekah Solem about current agriculture issues affecting their membership.  They talked about the status of GMO labeling, agriculture appropriations, and conservation issues. 

Minnesota Beer Wholesalers

Members of the Minnesota Beer Wholesalers visited my office with an update on their industry. The group talked about the importance of preventing underage drinking, the modernization of the excise tax and fully funding for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The bureau regulates this industry by enforcing regulations related to the production, labeling, and marketing of their alcohol. The group encourages Congress to fund the TTB so it can regulate the alcohol industry and collect federal excise taxes in an effective manner.

American Coalition for Ethanol

I believe in an all-the-above energy strategy which creates jobs at home and reduces our dependence on the increasingly volatile supply foreign oil. My staff aide Zach Martin met with the American Coalition of Ethanol to talk about ways to better educate other Members of Congress in the benefits of producing ethanol to our nation’s rural economy. I will continue to be a strong advocate for policies that support ethanol and other biofuels in Congress.

Selective TV

My staff assistant, Toni Merdan, met with the Board of Directors of Selective TV in Alexandria Minnesota this week.  Selective TV is a non-profit, viewer supported organization that has been bringing multiple unscrambled television stations to viewers in Douglas County and the surrounding area for over 30 years.  The Board was able to provide information and concerns about the The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) process of auctioning off spectrum that they currently utilize to broadcast over. 

The Arc Minnesota

Volunteers from The Arc Minnesota visited my office this week on behalf of developmentally disabled residents of the 7th District and their families. The Arc Minnesota is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to the inclusion and participation of disabled members of the state’s communities. As a member of the Congressional Autism Caucus, I will work to support the Arc’s mission to provide the resources that disabled Minnesotans need to lead healthy and productive lives.

American Academy of Ophthalmology

Michelle Atchison, an Ophthalmologist at St. Mary’s Detroit Lakes clinic, met with my staff this week to discuss rural vision services and transparency in the healthcare delivery system. In underserved rural communities, accurate provider information is important in visual health, patient autonomy, and cost-effective decision making.

Specialty Equipment Market Association

My staff aide Zach Martin sat down with Stuart Gosswein and Eric Snyder of the Specialty Equipment Market Association to discuss EPA’s most recent overreach in the motorsport industry. The 7th District in Minnesota contains 14 racetracks and five specialty car part manufacturers which create jobs and provide products for car enthusiasts. I am a cosponsor of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act to keep the EPA’s regulations in check.

Legislative Update

Member and 4-H Youth Event

On Tuesday, the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research held an event to hear presentations by National 4-H Conference participants concerning the future of agriculture in the United States. I was especially pleased to welcome Megan Slater, from Chisago, to the Committee. Like many in attendance, I’m a 4-H kid. 4-H played an important role in my life when I was growing up, and I continue to utilize the skills the program taught me today. I think all of us who represent rural America very much appreciate what 4-H does for the youth of the country as well as what the youth of the country do for us.

Energy and the Rural Economy: The Impacts of Oil and Gas Production

On Wednesday, the Agriculture Committee held a hearing to explore the impacts of oil and gas production on the rural economy. Oil and gas development has certainly helped some farmers and rural communities weather the recent downfall in commodity prices, demonstrating the importance of a diverse rural economy and the role these types of value-added systems play in keeping it afloat. Agriculture is no stranger to fluctuating commodity prices and we’ve all witnessed the impact of extreme highs and lows. When commodity prices drop, rural communities, landowners, farmers and business all feel the impact.

Focus on the Farm Economy: Growing Farm Financial Pressure

The Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing Thursday on growing farm financial pressure. The hearing was an opportunity for the Subcommittee to examine the impact price decreases are having on rural America. I was interested in hearing testimony on what farmers are experiencing and what, if anything, they are doing outside of farm bill programs to lessen the impact of low prices, along with how USDA is using the department’s resources to assist farmers and rural communities.


Congressional Art Competition

The Deadline is approaching! 

We are a little over a week away from the last day for students who live in Minnesota's Seventh District to submit their artwork for the 2016 Congressional Art Competition. The competition is open to all high-school students in 9th through 12th grades; the grand prize winner will be flown to Washington, D.C. in June for a reception honoring his or her artwork, which will be on display for one year.

The deadline for submission (student information and photo of artwork) is Friday, April 25, 2016.

Discovering the 7th

Murray County Courthouse 1902 / Present

Murray County’s first courthouse, located in Currie, served citizens for seven years until an 1887 election moved the county seat to Slayton. The Minnesota Supreme Court disallowed the contested election in 1887 but reversed its decision only two years later. County records were quickly moved to Slayton, and the construction of a new courthouse began. The Romanesque revival courthouse was completed in 1892 and featured a yellow brick exterior with limestone trimmings and a segmented dome. Prior to adding the structure to the National Register of Historic Places, Murray County built a new, one-story courthouse just south of the original. The courtroom from the old building’s second floor was dismantled and reconstructed in the new building.

This Week in American History

The DFL logo, A Farmer-Labor political poster atop an automobile, 1925

Minnesota is home to a truly unique political history: it is the only state in the union with a Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party. The DFL came about as the result of a merger between the Minnesota Democratic Party and the Farmer-Labor Party — a merger that took place 72 years ago today, on April 15th 1944.  Leading the merger effort were Elmer Kelm, the head of the Minnesota Democratic Party and founding chairman of the DFL; Elmer Benson, effectively the head of the Farmer–Labor Party by virtue of his leadership of its dominant left-wing faction; and rising star Hubert H. Humphrey, who chaired the Fusion Committee that accomplished the union and then went on to chair its first state convention.

Visitors from the 7th

Harold and Jennifer Kokesch (BROOKS)

Cannon Tunnel
Congressional Art Competition