Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 5/1/2015

Dear Friends,

In the leading turkey-producing state in the nation, Minnesota’s turkey and poultry producers are particularly impacted by the spread of avian flu. I met with representatives from Hormel and the National Chicken Council to discuss efforts to manage and control the disease, including a letter from the Agriculture Committee to the Office of Management and Budget requesting assistance for poultry and egg producers whose flocks suffered losses. I also met with leadership from the National Association of Wheat Growers, who expressed their support for reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act, which the House Agriculture Committee approved on Thursday. Finally, I was honored to be a recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Spirit of Enterprise” Award.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

National Association of Towns and Townships

The National Association of Towns and Townships held their annual meeting this week, and I had the privilege of meeting with Minnesota Township representatives. We discussed tax reform, the importance of a long term transportation bill, and the need to support our volunteer emergency responders. Town and township officers play an important role in our communities by making sure our local roads and bridges are maintained while serving as community leaders.

National Association of Wheat Growers

Brett Blankenship (WA), Jimmy Musick (OK), Gordon Stoner (MT), David Schemm (KS), Jim Palmer (CEO, NAWG), Paul Penner (KS)

Leadership from the National Association of Wheat Growers came by my office on Thursday morning. They had good timing, as the group wanted to talk about reauthorizing the Grain Standards Act, which was passed by the Agriculture Committee just an hour earlier. We also discussed trade policy and the Waters of the U.S. proposed rule.

Growth Energy

James Miller (Vice-President, Growth Energy) and Mick Miller (MORRIS)

This week I met with James Miller and Mick Miller of Growth Energy to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement of their Renewable Fuels Volume Standards timeline. The Agency is long overdue for releasing their volume requirements, having already missed the deadlines for 2014 and 2015. In EPA’s announcement, the agency wrote that it is committed to finalizing volume requirements for 2014, 2015, and 2016 by November 30th of this year.


I met with senior executives from Hormel yesterday to discuss how avian influenza is impacting their operations and the larger poultry export market. We also talked about GMOs and next steps for country of origin labeling (COOL) after the WTO ruling in May.

North American Agricultural Journalists

On Tuesday, I met with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists, a professional, international group of agricultural editors and writers. We discussed a wide range of issues including the Committee’s work this Congress, avian influenza in Minnesota, EPA rulemaking and pending trade agreements. My band, the Second Amendments, played during the organization’s annual scholarship dinner on Monday evening.

National Association of Farm Broadcasting

On Wednesday, I met with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting as part of their annual Washington Watch event, an annual meeting for farm broadcasters in Washington, DC. Most of the discussion focused on the avian influenza outbreak in Minnesota, but we also had the opportunity to discuss the agriculture Committee’s work to reauthorize the CFTC, farm bill implementation, and potential next steps for country of origin labeling.

National Chicken Council

I met with Mike Donohue (Agri Stats), Mike Helgeson (GNP Company), and Matt Mika (Tyson Foods) during the National Chicken Council fly-in. We discussed avian influenza and USDA’s work with growers and companies. We also discussed the Trans Pacific Partnership and Trade Promotion Authority.


My staff aides Zach Martin and Evan Jurkovich met with Al-Corn CEO Randall Doyal and CFO Chad Miller to discuss energy policy. I will continue to support an all-of-the-above energy strategy, which includes a vibrant ethanol industry that creates renewable fuel from crops such as corn. Significant technological advancements have been made in ethanol over the past few years, including a method of breaking down corn fibers to produce ethanol from cellulose.

American Forest Foundation

Melissa Moeller and Jonathan Burris

Staff aide Zach Martin also met with Jonathan Burris (American Forest Foundation), who owns his family’s Lavender Springs Tree Farm near Pequot Lakes, and Melissa Moeller. They talked about family forest issues important to Minnesota, including technological achievements in the wood industry. For example, a development company recently unveiled plans to construct a new, seven-story office building in Minneapolis that will be made primarily of wood.

Meeker County Conservation Tour

Members of my staff joined Meeker County Commissioners and Soil and Water Conservation District board members on a bus tour of Meeker County conservation lands this week. The participants had the opportunity to engage in discussion with landowners and learn about conservation projects and resources.

Southwest Economic Development Professionals Meeting

My Senior Economic Development Officer Toni Merdan attended the Southwest Economic Development Professionals Meeting at the Jackpot Junction Conference facility in Morton this week. The Developers enjoyed a lecture from Paul Pierson of USDA Rural Development about the community and business programs available through the agency. 

Grand Forks Labor Memorial

On Tuesday, my Staff Aide Allison Myhre attended an observance of Workers Memorial Day held at Bringewatt Park in Grand Forks. Northern Valley Labor Council President Mark Froemke spoke about workplace safety and recognized the women and men in Minnesota and North Dakota who lost their lives in workplace accidents over the past year.

Military Matters

Military Construction

On Thursday, the House passed the Military Construction-VA Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2029). The legislation contains funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, provide housing and services to military families, and help maintain base infrastructure. The bill also funds veterans’ benefits and programs. In total, the bill provides $76.6 billion in discretionary funding – $4.6 billion above the fiscal year 2015 level, including increases for health care, benefit claims processing, the Board of Veterans Appeals, medical and prosthetic research, and information technology. Of this funding, $58.7 billion was provided in the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill. Military construction is increased by $904 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, which allows for full funding of family housing, construction of hospitals and health facilities.

Legislative Update

Emergency Assistance for Avian Flu

I joined Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, Wednesday in calling for emergency assistance to address avian flu. In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, the Agriculture Committee leadership urged assistance be released to poultry and egg producers whose flocks suffered losses due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N2 infections.

Agriculture Committee Approves Two Bills

The House Agriculture Committee on Thursday approved by voice vote both the Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2015 (H.R. 2051) and the United States Grain Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2088). The Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2015 will continue price reporting programs to ensure that producers have access to transparent, accurate and timely market information. The United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2015 will continue the inspections provided by the Federal Grain Inspection Service.

Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry Hearing

The Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing Wednesday to review the National Forest System and Active Forest Management. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell provided an update on implementation of forestry provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill. We also heard testimony regarding what can be done to keep pushing our badly needed forest management process forward.

2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act

On Friday, the House completed its work on the 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, which provides funding for a number of important areas from energy research to repairing our ports and inland waterway system. Getting agriculture products to market efficiently benefits all farmers, and this bill increases funding for this purpose. I was also glad that resources were included for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water Project. Lastly, the bill also included an important provision that I supported which would block the EPA from moving forward with their proposed rule to expand the scope of the Clean Water Act, creating more confusion for farmers and ranchers.

International Year of Soils

Farmers and ranchers know firsthand that healthy soils are critical to our nation’s food security and the agriculture economy of the 7th District. That is why I am a cosponsor of H. Con. Res. 30, which designates 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The resolution also marks the 80th anniversary of the Soils Conservation Act of 1935 which led to a number of collaborative efforts that work with farmers to improve soil health for the benefit of future generations. Today, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service continues to offer a number of voluntary conservation programs that are protecting soil.


Spirit of Enterprise

R. Bruce Josten (Executive Vice-President of Government Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented me with the annual Spirit of Enterprise Award for the second session of the 113th Congress. The award honors Members of Congress for support of pro-growth, pro-jobs policies. Minnesota’s Seventh District businesses provide good jobs for district residents and play a major role in keeping the district’s economy strong. I appreciate the Chamber’s support and thank them for this recognition.

CentraCare Health

The Long Prairie CentraCare Health facility, part of a non-profit health provider network, was awarded a grant through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program this week. Designed to help expand tele-neurology patient navigator programs, these funds will allow CentraCare to further expand and improve rural health services.

Discovering the 7th

Interpretive Center Museum / Boyhood Home

The Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center Museum in Sauk Centre preserves and displays artifacts from the life of novelist, short-story writer, and playwright Sinclair Lewis. Lewis’ insight into the culture of small-town America helped establish Sauk Centre as the “Original Main Street of the World.” The museum features a front-porch replica of the writer’s childhood home, his writing desk, and a copy of his Nobel Prize in Literature.

This Week in American History

Sinclair Lewis declined the Pulitzer Prize for his 1925 novel Arrowsmith on May 1, 1926. Explaining that the award “inhibits creativity and makes writers lazy,” Lewis would later become the first American writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Best known for his 1920 novel Main Street, Sinclair Lewis is remembered as one of the most influential writers of the inter-war period. 

Visitors from the District

Waubun High School (Close-Up Foundation)