Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 4/4/2014

Apr 4, 2014 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Education, Energy

Tuesday in East Grand Forks
(Photo courtesy of Bruce Brierley
from The Exponent)

Dear Friends,

This week our Minnesota weather gave us tornados and snowstorms as we ushered in the month of April. We had another busy week in Washington, D.C. On Thursday the House Agriculture Committee heard testimony from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on the state of the rural economy. Warroad-based Marvin Windows, ELCA Bishop Lawrence Wohlrabe of the NW Minnesota Synod, the MN Pork Producers Association, the Minnesota-South Dakota Equipment Dealers Association and  Rural Minnesota CEP stopped by for a visit. I also met with High School students, an award-winning Assistant Principal, and a former MN State Senator.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Status of Rural Economy

On Thursday the House Agriculture Committee heard testimony from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on the state of the rural economy. The rural economic outlook remains positive in many parts of the country, even as commodity markets are starting to decline and weather challenges persist.

Of course now, we need to make sure we don’t do anything to screw this up. People who don’t understand agriculture and are driven more by political ideology are the biggest threats to the rural economy. The Ryan budget proposes an additional $23 billion in cuts to the farm safety net and turns SNAP into a block grant while the EPA at times seems intent on regulating farmers out of business.

Having a new farm bill is good for the rural economy. Providing farmers with at least five years of certainty allows them to make long-term planning decisions. The farm bill’s rural development, research and energy programs all benefit local communities and the 16 million American jobs tied to agriculture.

Getting the farm bill passed was almost a miracle. Hopefully, implementation will be a lot easier. There are several complicated programs but I have confidence that USDA and Secretary Vilsack are up to the task.

Marvin Windows and Doors

Tom Crawshaw, Scott Ocel (Owatonna), Brad Fevold (WARROAD), Justin Partee (WARROAD)

I met with Marvin Windows and other members of the Windows and Door Manufacturers Association on Tuesday. We discussed EPA's energy efficiency and lead regulations. The Window & Door Manufacturers Association define the standards of excellence in the residential and commercial window, door, and skylight industry and advances these standards among industry members while providing resources, education, and professional programs designed to advance industry businesses.

Evangelical Lutheran Church

Mikka McCracken (Chicago, formerly BEMIDJI), Rev. James S. Dunlop (Harrisburg, PA), Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Wohlrabe (MOORHEAD)

I met with Bishop Lawrence Wohlrabe of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod, Bishop James Dunlop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod, and Mikka McCracken with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) World Hunger. Thirty-two bishops representing 65 synods of the ELCA were on Capitol Hill to voice support for public policy that creates opportunities to overcome poverty and protect the environment.  The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S. with approximately four million members.  The Northwestern Minnesota Synod includes 21 counties in northwestern Minnesota.

MN Pork Producers

Brian Schwartz (Sleepy Eye), Jay Moore (Jackson), Dale Miller (Hampton), Pat FitzSimmons (DASSEL), Reuben Bode (Courtland)

Minnesota Pork Producers Association visited with me about trade, research and disaster funding, and other issues important to the industry.  Minnesota ranks second in the number of hogs raised and the value of hogs sold for processing, according to 2011 National Pork Board statistics.  Additionally, Minnesota pork producers benefit from the close proximity of two major Minnesota pork processing plants:  Hormel Foods (Austin) and JBS (Worthington).

MN/South Dakota Equipment Dealers

Richard Strom (Owatonna), Shelli Beron (Owatonna), Mike St. Onge (Grand Forks), Charlie Swenson (TYLER), Corey Marzolf (Spring Valley)

On Thursday I sat down with the Minnesota-South Dakota Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) to discuss farm bill implementation, trade, tax policy, and other issues that affect equipment dealers.  According to its mission statement, EDA seeks to build the best business environment it can for Minnesota and South Dakota equipment dealers.  The current association formed in 1963 when the two state associations merged to serve the needs of area equipment dealers. However, the history of each can be traced back as early as 1888 in Minnesota and 1899 in South Dakota.

Concentrated Employment Program

Brad and Janet Green (DETROIT LAKES), Dan Wenner (DETROIT LAKES), Carol and Steve Anderson (Little Falls), Rita Borchert (Monticello), Kristin Yeager (Monticello).

This week I met with representatives from the Rural Minnesota CEP to discuss funding for work training programs that have become a vital part in fulfilling jobs in Western Minnesota. Hard working programs like these are enabling young and old workers alike to continue training and better themselves for expanding careers opportunities in the 7th District. I commend these folks on their hard work and success for rural Minnesota’s working communities.

Arlen Kangas (OSAGE)

Arlen Kangas, Chief Economist for the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, stopped by to talk about their work in Thief River Falls, Detroit Lakes, Perham and many other areas.  MMCDC is a non-profit organization that provides capital resources and innovative ideas to assist in business and community development throughout Minnesota and the Midwest.  They work to improve and empower communities by providing capital, training and technical assistance through the development of housing, commercial and community facilities.  MMCDC is a great example of public private partnerships working together to improve communities. 

Close Up
Hawley and Breckenridge High Schools

I spent time this week with Junior and Senior students from Hawley High School and Breckenridge High School as part of the Close Up Foundation’s program of bringing students from across the country to visit Washington, meet with lawmakers, and tour the Nation’s Capital. I always enjoy meeting Minnesota’s youth and seeing the promising futures that lie ahead of them. After getting a better understanding of what happens on a daily basis in Congress, we were given the opportunity to have more casual conversation and learn about the student’s futures. I look forward to the hard work these students will contribute to western Minnesota.

Region 9 Development Commission

Dawn Hegland (APPLETON), Nicole Griensewic (Mankato), Pat Henderson (Duluth), Netty Bair (SLAYTON), Mayor of SLAYTON Miron Carney , Mayor of Lake Crystal Brad Ahrenstorff.

Minnesota Association of Development Organizations (MADO) representatives visited with me last week.  They are a nonprofit organization consisting of ten federally designated economic development districts in Minnesota which cover 63 counties in greater Minnesota. They provide technical assistance to local units of government in their respective regions. Each Regional Development Commission will perform a variety of unique services based on the needs of their region.    

Wells Technology

Andy Wells, the CEO and owner of Wells Technology, visited with me on Wednesday.  I have had the pleasure of touring his 52,000 square foot precision machining manufacturing plant in Bemidji and I have been impressed to learn more about his innovative internship and mentorship programs for Native American youth.  Mr. Wells is currently selling products to the U.S. military and he was the Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneur of the year in 2009.  

MN Assistant Principal of the Year

Beckie Simenson (WILLMAR)

I was pleased to have Beckie Simenson, Assistant Principal of Willmar Middle School, visit Washington after being awarded Minnesota’s Assistant Principal of the Year by the MN Association of Secondary Principals. I commend her on her hard work in educating our young children and preparing them for the world beyond. I look forward to working with Beckie and others across the district to ensure our students have access to great educations.

Shooting Sports Advocates

On Thursday I met with Russ Thurman (Shooting Industry Magazine), Fmr. Rep. Max Sandlin, Steve Sanetti (National Shooting Sports Foundation), Justin Moon (Kahr Arms), and Roger Smith (Colt Defense). We had a thorough discussion on the current state of shooting sports in America. These men are on the front lines of gun safety, with manufacturers taking the right steps in providing gun locks through their CHILDSAFE program while raising awareness to the issues and efficiently working with federal agencies.


Former State Senator Bob Lessard

Former State Senator Bob Lessard stopped by on Thursday to talk about wildlife issues in the 7th District.

Military Matters

Month of the Military Child

On Monday Governor Mark Dayton proclaimed April as Month of the Military Child. When a parent serves overseas children have to make enormous sacrifices too. Honoring and recognizing military children will go a long way for them. Communities can also do their part by wearing purple and attending “Purple Up! Day,” which is an event for military kids which takes place on April 15th in the State Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul.  

For more information on all military youth activities this month click here.

Constituents from the 7th

Judy and Keith Swanson (HOFFMAN)

Jacqueline and Rachel Durant (MAHNOMEN)

This Week in American History
On March 29th, 1916, Eugene J. McCarthy was born in Watkins. He represented Minnesota is Congress for twenty-two years from 1949 to 1971, ten as a U.S. House Representative and twelve as a Senator.  He challenged incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democrat Primary in 1968 by running on an anti-Vietnam War platform. He would ultimately lose the primary to another well-known Minnesotan, Hubert H. Humphrey. McCarthy passed away in Washington, D.C. in 2005 at 89 years old.

2014 Congressional Art Competition

My office is currently accepting entries for this year’s congressional art competition. Click here for more information on how to apply.  Deadline for submission is Tuesday, April 29th.

“Hanging Flower”
Desiree Bauer (FRAZEE VERGAS)
2013 Congressional Art Competition