Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/20/2018

Springtime in Willmar

Dear Friends,

This week I led the charge to defend the bipartisan tradition of the Agriculture Committee, and the broad coalition of farm, conservation and nutrition stakeholders needed to pass the strongest possible Farm Bill. During the committee’s markup of a draft bill to reauthorize farm and nutrition programs, we heard from Members of Congress who represent all parts the country who understand that we need a bipartisan Farm Bill that meets the needs of the farmers who produce our nation’s food supply and those who need assistance to purchase it. Unfortunately, the farmers I talk to are concerned about the impact of tariffs and low prices, and this bill does not provide any new support for them. Following the markup, I got a number of questions about what I thought about work requirements. I have always said that a good paying job is the best way to pull people out of poverty and into the middle class. That is why I, along with other Members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, negotiated mandatory work requirements into the 1996 welfare reform bill that are still on the books today. Work is a bipartisan issue, and that is why I am hopeful that we can build on the 10 pilot programs from the 2014 Farm Bill and give states the resources they need to help people find meaningful work. One thing I would like to see is more assistance to help people relocate from areas of high unemployment to places like western Minnesota where employers have openings for good paying jobs. The Agriculture Committee has always been the one place in Congress where members from both sides of the aisle work together and actually get something done on behalf of our constituents. I will fight to keep it that way.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Committee Marks Up Partisan GOP Farm Bill

The House Agriculture Committee marked up the Chairman’s partisan Farm Bill this week, despite clear and repeated warnings from me and my fellow Committee members that the bill, which includes the GOP’s larger attempts at welfare reform as well as several misguided and poorly thought-out proposals on farm programs, does not do nearly enough to protect farmers or consumers in this time of economic uncertainty.

In my comments, which are available to read here, and to watch here, I talked about the ways in which this bill fails farmers, including through inadequate provisions on farm programs, misguided cuts to rural development, energy, conservation and a shortchanging of the trade programs farmers need to expand markets as well as outreach to beginning and veteran farmers and a long-term commitment to animal health. I also expressed my real concern that the path the Chairman has taken us down endangers the farm bill coalition and may likely mean that those who want to dismantle farm programs will feel emboldened to renew their attacks on the programs farmers need to get through tough times.

View RFD’s article to learn more about the mark up and the provisions of this Farm Bill.

Trade Letter to the White House

During Wednesday’s markup of the Farm Bill, I addressed the threats American farmers face following the Administration’s actions on trade and the need for certainty given a potentially significant drop in demand because of retaliatory tariffs from major export partners like China. To follow up on these concerns, I sent a letter to President Trump, Trade Ambassador Lighthizer, and USDA Secretary Perdue encouraging the use of increased Title 1 reference prices, increased funding to fight trade barriers, and ensure an adequate dairy safety net.

You can read my letter to the Administration by clicking here.

Minnesota Telecom Alliance

Members of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance visited my office this week to thank me for introducing the bipartisan Office of Rural Telecommunications Act. The bill is designed to help coordinate federal efforts to develop rural broadband by establishing an “Office of Rural Telecommunications” at the FCC. I appreciate Alliance’s support as we work to advance this needed legislation.

Willmar Wye Project

Representative Tim Walz, MN01 (Mankato); Roger Imdieke, Kandiyohi County Commissioner (NEW LONDON); Mel Odens, Public Works Director for Kandiyohi County

I met with Commissioner Roger Imdieke and Public Works Director Mel Odens this week to discuss the progress of the Willmar Wye Project. The Willmar Wye Project will greatly enhance the accessibility and reliability of the region’s transportation system. Moreover, it will improve safety and road congestion by reducing the number of trains passing through downtown Willmar. It is important to reach the necessary agreements and secure the required permits as soon as possible to begin construction.

Minnesota Restaurant Association

Members of the Minnesota Restaurant Association stopped by my office to discuss a wide range of issues affecting small businesses, particularly those in the food service industry. We discussed tax reform and the regulations surrounding it, impacts of the Affordable Care Act, the looming immigration debate, and how these issues impact workers in the food service industry. I will continue to work to promote policy that helps small businesses thrive in the rural economy.

Military Officers of Minnesota

General Ronald Hein, Lt. Col. Ginni Guiton, Captain Matthew Kuskie

Military Officers visited with my staff aide Zach Martin to discuss our national defense and recruitment efforts. Our military consists of dedicated men and women who put their lives on the line in defense of our country. To reward their service, we should ensure that military pay, benefits, and access to healthcare are adequate to meet their needs.

Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association

Fire Chief BJ Jungmann (Prior Lake); Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller (Cross Lake)

My staff aide Richard Lee met with Chief Chip Lohmiller and Chief BJ Jungmann of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association to discuss federal and state funding to maintain well trained and staffed emergency services. They also discussed day to day operations as well as the effectiveness of Minnesota’s municipal and volunteer fire departments. I commend all of our first responders for the sacrifices they make to ensure our communities are kept safe.

Land O’ Lakes

(Left to right) - Mark Berning, Dairy Producer (St. Michaels); Jeff Johnson, Centrasota Co-op Manager (Chaska); Autumn Price (VP, Government Relations); Mike Vande Logt, Executive VP of Land O'Lakes, (Arden Hills); Staff aide Rebekah Solem; John Habedank, grain farmer (TWIN VALLEY); Chris Policinski, CEO of Land O'Lakes (Arden Hills)

My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with the Land O'Lakes Board of Directors and members of the Land O'Lakes Executive Leadership Team on Wednesday during their trip to Washington. They discussed a number of issues, including the Farm Bill markup that was going on at the time, the need for a workable solution for immigration, and the importance of trade. Headquartered in Arden Hills, Minnesota, Land O'Lakes includes Land O'Lakes Dairy Foods as well as Purina Animal Nutrition and WinField United. Land O'Lakes dairy producer members own 354 farms in Minnesota and market 1.6 billion pounds of Minnesota milk each year.

Minnesota Grange

Representatives of the Minnesota Grange visited my Washington office this week to talk about the Farm Bill and other issues of importance to agriculture. The Grange is a nonpartisan organization with a history of grassroots political activism. The Minnesota State chapter was officially organized by Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley and other local representatives in 1869, a little over a year after he helped form the National Grange in Washington. The Minnesota chapter is honored to be the first State Grange chapter formed, reflecting this in its motto, "First Among Granges."

Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association

Members from the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association visited Washington to discuss the state of snowmobiling in the North. They met with my staff for a wide-ranging conversation on policies affecting the sport, from Forest Service funding and trail access, to the state of Arctic Cat and Polaris' operations in Thief River Falls and Roseau, respectively. Having spent a lot of time on a snowmobile myself, I enjoy working to keep this great tradition alive. I am pleased to see the strides the industry is making, and the great benefits this sport brings to the economy of Minnesota.

Minnesota Beverage Association

Dan Kueppers (Woodbury); Sarah Towles; Sondie Yelvington (St Paul); John Glotfelty (Woodbury); Tim Wilkin (Mendota Heights); Jason Bernick (St. Cloud)

I met with the Minnesota Beverage Association on Tuesday to talk about SNAP and the Farm Bill as well as other infrastructure issues that impact the industry. We also talked about increasing truck weights, an important issue that pushed me to get involved with government at the beginning of my career. Minnesota Beverage Association represents the bottlers and distributors of non-alcoholic beverages in Minnesota. The beverage industry provides 5,310 jobs in Minnesota and supports a number of other businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, and movie theaters.

North American Deer Farmers Association

Representatives of the North American Deer Farmers Association stopped by my Washington office this week. They visited with my staff about the importance of deer farming in the state of Minnesota and the USDA’s cervid health program.  The group also emphasized the importance of funding research into diseases that affect deer such as chronic wasting disease.

Workforce Success Roundtable

The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Northwest Private Industry Council (NWPIC), and the Inter-County Community Council partnered to present the Northwest Region Workforce Solutions Workshop. This was an effort to share strategies for attracting and retaining skilled employees. Attendees represented manufacturing, healthcare and numerous small businesses.

The discussion focused on utilizing aspects of recruiting such as daycare availability, housing, social and recreational benefits, worker benefits, adequate broadband access, a welcoming community and other ideas. Recruiting with low unemployment can be a challenge, so I want to thank all those who partnered to offer this program to strengthen recruiting strategies in northwest Minnesota.

Quin County Health Services

My Staff Aide LeRoy Stumpf visited a Quin County Health Services office on Monday to talk about the services they offer. Quin County Health Services is a cooperative effort of five counties to deliver several public health and nutrition programs in northwest Minnesota such as: the Women Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Statewide Health Improvement Program. Food, nutrition and health programs are essential for having good communities and healthy children.

AgriTalk – April 16

I appeared on AgriTalk this week with host Chip Flory to discuss the ongoing farm bill process. On the show, I repeated my frustration with the farm bill process. Chip and I talked about the Republicans’ partisan bill, and specifically where the bill falls short in providing an adequate safety net for both farmers and consumers. I reiterated that my frustrations with the bill aren’t just about nutrition programs like SNAP, but provisions on many programs including farm supports, trade promotion, rural development and livestock-focused programs. These programs help farmers manage uncertainty in today’s farm economy, made worse by the Administration’s potentially disastrous actions on trade. I also reiterated my warnings to Republicans that the ideological fight they’ve started over the Farm Bill looks similar to the strategy that brought the bill down in 2013. Chip and I also discussed the uncertain nature of the Administration’s policies on renewable fuels and the RFS.

Audio of the interview is available here.

Linder Farm Network

I spoke with Lynn Ketelsen of the Linder Farm Network on the ins and outs of the farm bill negotiations, and specifically the broken promises from the Agriculture Committee Majority. Lynn and I expressed how disappointed I am that the Committee I’ve been so proud to serve on for almost 30 years seems to have fallen into the same partisan bickering that plagues so many other committees.

Clips from that interview are available here.

WDAY Radio

I was a guest on WDAY radio this morning where Jim Shaw was filling in for Mike McFeely. Our discussion focused on the farm bill mark-up that took place earlier this week. I explained why I voted against the bill and the closed-door partisan process it went through. Towards the end we talked about efforts in Congress to protect or dissolve the Mueller investigation.

Students from the 7th

Students from Red Lake High School visited Washington this week to tour the city and observe Congressional hearings. I am always encouraged by students who are excited to get involved in the political process.


Veterinarian Recruitment Fair – April 24-26

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced its Veterinarian Recruitment Fair in St. Paul, Minn. The event will be held from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on April 24-26 at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse located at 316 North Robert Street, St. Paul, Minn.

Veterinarians interested in a job with FSIS are encouraged to attend the recruitment fair. At the event, veterinarians may apply to FSIS jobs, be interviewed, and medically examined and potentially be provided a tentative offer letter, all within the same week. Applicants should bring a resume, a photo ID, employment history, and residence history to the event in order to complete all of the required documents.

This Week in American History

Wisconsin Territory, 1836

On April 20, 1836, the Wisconsin Territory was established. The new territory extended westward to the Missouri River, including the area of present-day Minnesota. Two years later, the land west of the Mississippi River would become part of Iowa Territory. The Minnesota Territory was later established in 1849.

What’s the Story?

(Right) Representative Don Young of Alaska being named “Dean of the House” during a gathering of the House of Representatives on December 5, 2017

This photo of me and my good friend Don Young is a new addition to my Washington, D.C. office. Congressman Young has represented the State of Alaska since 1973, and was recently named the Dean of the United States House of Representatives, a title reserved for the longest serving member of the chamber. It has been a pleasure to work alongside Representative Young, and I look forward to continuing our work together in Congress.

Sunset over Lake Bemidji