Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/29/2016

Dear Friends,

The House of Representatives this week voted on legislation covering education, labor and financial policy. In addition to the legislation on the House floor, I met with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting to discuss the farm economy and the outlook for the next farm bill. The Agriculture Committee held several Subcommittee hearings continuing the “Focus on the Farm Economy.” Finally, over the weekend I was able to get away long enough to enjoy the beginning of spring turkey season. I called this gobbler in more than 400 yards over an open field near Thief River Falls.

Sincerely,
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Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

North American Agricultural Journalists

On Tuesday morning, I met with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists, a professional group of international agricultural editors and writers. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics including GMO labeling, the outlook for the next farm bill, trade and presidential politics.

Clip: https://www.agweek.com/news/minnesota/4018565-agweek-dc-minnesotas-collin-peterson-shares-his-thoughts-agriculture

National Association of Farm Broadcasting

I met with farm broadcasters from across the country Wednesday morning as part of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Washington Watch event. Broadcasters asked questions about the farm economy, GMO labeling, the farm bill and trade. I also did one-on-one interviews with Carah Hart from the Red River Farm Network in Grand Forks and Joe Gill with KASM in Albany.

Clip: https://agri-pulse.com/Key-ag-lawmakers-dont-want-to-split-the-farm-bill-04272016.asp

Cummins, Inc.

I met with Cummins, Inc. President and COO Rich Freeman. We discussed aspects of his business and how trade impacts his company. Cummins, Inc. designs and manufactures diesel and natural gas engines as well as electrical power generation systems. The company’s power systems business is headquartered in Minneapolis and employs approximately 2,200 workers in Minnesota.

Land O’ Lakes Board of Directors

On Wednesday, I met with a delegation from Land O'Lakes, including CEO Chris Policinski, to talk about biotechnology, trade and other issues important to the industry. Land O'Lakes, Inc. is a Minnesota-based, farmer-owned food and Ag cooperative with 78 cooperative members and 578 agriculture service members in the state.

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 Goodridge High School. I enjoy getting to meet students from western Minnesota. We talked about everything from current events in Washington to turkey hunting in the District. I wish them the best of luck in their studies.

United Steelworkers

Members of the United Steelworkers Union were in Washington, D.C. to discuss trade and Chinese business practices and the repeal of the excise tax on their health insurance plans.

Minnesota Independent Community Bankers

I met with a large group representing the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota. We discussed a range of topics affecting Minnesota Community Banks including regulatory relief, credit accessibility and industry competitiveness. I appreciate the hard work these individuals do to provide rural Minnesotans the credit they need to run their small businesses and purchase homes. Community banks are a lifeline in rural America, and I will continue to work toward enabling them to help our rural economies grow.

Minnesota State Funeral Directors Association

I met with the Minnesota State Funeral Directors Association to discuss increasing the Veterans Affairs funeral and burial benefits for our nation's veterans. I support legislation to increase this benefit to ensure that all veterans receive a dignified funeral. We also discussed legislation that will increase the Social Security death benefit. The current benefit of $225 hasn’t been changed since 1954. I support increasing it to $1,000.

Minnesota Association of Townships


Loren Ingebretsen (FELTON), Ilane Rue (QUEEN), and Jane Youngkranz (LAKE LILLIAN)

Members of the Minnesota Association of Townships visited the office to discuss their priorities in Congress. We talked about transportation funding and broadband deployment in rural townships.

Sempra Energy

Sempra Energy is constructing a new 39-turbine wind project in Sauk Centre which will produce 78-megawatts of power. This will create 250 construction jobs at peak and seven full-time positions to maintain and operate the project. My staff aide Zach Martin met with two Sempra Energy representatives to discuss the project and its contribution towards creating a more diversified energy portfolio.

Legislative Update

This week was a busy week on Capitol Hill regarding legislation passed in the House of Representatives.

We voted on a number of bills on the suspension calendar, ranging from combating terrorist recruitment to keeping American manufacturing competitive. The House passed and I supported the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act (H.R. 4498), which sought to ease SEC regulations regarding angel investors in American startups. The House also passed the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization (SOAR) Act (H.R. 4901), which reauthorized the Washington, D.C. school voucher program. I opposed this legislation, as it was another attack on the public school system and held Washington, D.C. public schools hostage for a political point.

Finally, the House voted on H. J. Res 88, which sought to disapprove of the Department of Labor's final "fiduciary" rule under the Congressional Review Act. While I have expressed many concerns over DOL's rule-making during this process, I opposed this resolution to kill the entire rule. The Department worked hard to address the concerns I had about how the rule would work. The final rule protects Americans’ savings, strengthens standards of professionalism regarding investment advice, and keeps the industry competitive.

Agriculture Committee Update

On Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research held a “Focus on the Farm Economy” hearing to look at factors impacting the cost of production. I’m proud that the 2008 Farm Bill was the first to address the growing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, local foods and organic production. I’m also proud that we were able to continue and build on these investments in the 2014 bill. Research is another area of critical importance to agriculture productivity and efficiency. Research and innovation in biotechnology has been paramount to meet growing demand, and I am hopeful a workable solution to the biotech labeling issues can be found.

On Thursday morning, the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit held a hearing to review the impact of capital and margin requirements on end-users. Requiring banks to meet capital and margin requirements lowers risk and reduces the potential of a taxpayer-funded bailout should a big bank fail. These requirements were an essential part of the Agriculture Committee’s work on Dodd-Frank following the financial collapse. We worked very hard to ensure that end-users – who are actually using these markets to hedge against risk – would be exempt from the new requirements. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, and discussions to be had, but I believe the need for margin and capital requirements is not up for debate.

On Thursday afternoon, the Nutrition Subcommittee continued the “Focus on the Farm Economy” series with a hearing on consumer food prices. We often focus on food producers but shouldn’t forget the important role retailers play in getting food to consumers. I think a lot of people take for granted the fact that there is always food on their grocery store shelves and this hearing helped shed some light on what it takes to get products from farms to stores. Demand for organic and local food products has soared recently but we need to remember that some of these items are out of reach for those with lower incomes. It’s important for retailers to meet the needs of consumers at all income levels.

Newsstand                      

The Second Amendments

My band, the Second Amendments, provided entertainment during the North American Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ) annual Sonja Hillgren Scholarship and writing awards banquet on Monday night. The North American Agricultural Journalists is a professional society of editors and reporters who cover food and agriculture. Their members come from the major wire services, major newspapers such as the Toronto Globe and Mail, magazines such as Progressive Farmer, and new media including Politico and electronic newsletters like the Ag Insider. The dinner has been instrumental in generating donations for an endowed scholarship fund at the University of Missouri for journalism students focusing on food and agriculture. Among our normal set, we also played Purple Rain as a tribute to Prince.

Arbor Day


National Arbor Day, Minnesota Red Pine Tree

American Arbor Day originated in Nebraska in 1872 – around one million trees were planted in celebration. It gained national attention on April 15, 1907, when President Roosevelt issued an "Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States" about the importance of trees and U.S. forestry. Since then, it has been celebrated every year on the last Friday in April and has spread to more than 40 different countries around the world. Minnesota’s state tree is the Red Pine, and you can celebrate Arbor Day by planting one today!

New Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Kicks Off in New London/Spicer

The Humanities Center is pleased to announce the Minnesota debut of Museum on Main Street – Water/Ways Traveling Exhibit. This exhibit and community engagement initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program engages the Humanities Center in partnership with two federal agencies, four Minnesota state agencies, the Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association, and six greater Minnesota communities. Minnesota was one of five states selected to pilot this traveling exhibit.

Water/Ways will visit the six Minnesota communities in 2016-2017, kicking off in New London/Spicer June 25 through August 7. Other communities hosting Water/Ways include: St. Peter, Red Wing, Sandstone, Lanesboro and Detroit Lakes. These communities will tell their local water stories and envision the future of water through a year-long engagement process. Community leaders will create local companion exhibitions, community events, and educational programming that will engage thousands of Minnesotans. For more information about Water/Ways visit: mnhum.org/waterways.

Minnesota sailor, killed during D-Day, identified after 72 years

John Anderson, missing-in-action since D-Day in WWII, is finally returning home. The Willmar native was presumed to be lost at sea when his ship, the LCT30, was hit by a Nazi explosive. Then, six years ago, researchers found clues that led them to believe he was instead buried in a grave marked “unknown” within an American cemetary in France. His family asked the Pentagon to do DNA testing to confirm, and with Senator Klobuchar’s help the body was exhumed and brought to a military forensics lab in Nebraska. There, he was officially identified as the missing soldier John Anderson. The family now plans to lay him to rest in Willmar next to his parents, where a spot was kept open in the hopes that he would one day return home.

Discovering the 7th

 
Prospect House / “Cap” Colehour (1882)

Continually inhabited since 1882, the Prospect House and accompanying Civil War Museum displays antiques and collections from a family that established residence in Minnesota following the Civil War. The grounds of the museum, defined by century-old trees and unchanged in furnishing and décor since 1929, were designed by Battle Lake Civil War veteran James Allison “Cap” Colehour. The Prospect House was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places and offers visitors a glimpse of the Civil War’s legacy in Western Minnesota.

This Week in American History

On April 30, 1803, the United States purchased approximately 828,000,000 square miles of territory from France, doubling the size of the young republic. What was known as the Louisiana Territory stretched from the Mississippi River in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west and from the Gulf of Mexico in the south to the Canadian border in the north. Part or all of 15 states, including more than half of Minnesota, were eventually created from the Louisiana Purchase, which is considered one of the most important achievements of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. The Louisiana Purchase is easy to visualize if you visit downtown Minneapolis. Standing on the Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi looking upriver, the Louisiana Purchase is on the left from downtown Minneapolis west to Montana.

Visitors from the 7th


Scott Murphy, Dorothy and Jim Golombiecki (FERGUS FALLS)


Ben Grimsley (DETROIT LAKES)