Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 5/18

May 18, 2012 Issues: Health

Newsletter for Minnesota's 7th district

Dear Friends,

I will be hosting a series of farm bill meetings next week throughout the Seventh District, providing an update on where the farm bill reauthorization stands in Congress. Details for these meetings are listed below.  This newsletter will also provide some important information about a new program available to Veterans, and finally I'll update you on what the Agriculture Committee has been working on this week and USDA's celebration of its 150th anniversary.

Sincerely,

Congressman Collin C. Peterson

Minnesota 7th District

 

Farm Bill Meetings Next Week

 

Monday, May 21

  • Crookston, 10 a.m. at Youngquist Auditorium on the east side of UMC campus, 2900 University Avenue.
  • Hallock, 2 p.m. at the Younggren Farms Shop located four miles north of Hallock on Highway 75 and then one and a half miles west on County Rd 65

Thursday, May 24

  • Fergus Falls, 10 a.m. at the Otter Tail Power Community Rooms, 216 S Cascade St.
  • Melrose, 2 p.m. at Melrose City Center, Meeting Room C, 225 1st St. NE

Friday, May 25

  • Pipestone, 11 a.m. at Pipestone County Courthouse Community Room, 416 Hiawatha Ave. S. (hosted by Congressman Tim Walz)
  • Olivia, 3 p.m. at Max's Grill, 2425 W. Lincoln Ave.

 

Veterans Education

Beginning May 15, unemployed Vets between the ages of 35 and 60 will be able to apply for new benefits to cover education costs for up to one year.  This program is a combined effort by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor to focus on retraining thousands of Vets for high-demand jobs.

For more information, Vets may go to the website at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW, or call VA’s Call Centers toll free at 1-800-827-1000.  To learn more about the Department of Labor’s Veterans programs, Vets are encouraged to visit https://www.dol.gov/vets/.

 

Praise for Members who Supported Simpson-Bowles Budget

USA Today: 38 Members of Congress Find Courage to Do the Right Thing

Recently I joined 38 of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle -- 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats -- in voting for a better budget through the Simpson-Bowles Amendment.  I know we can balance the budget and reduce the deficit in a responsible way that protects our military families, our senior citizens, and our children.  I supported Simpson-Bowles because it was the only budget proposal that reduced the deficit responsibly, was bipartisan, and protected Medicare.  Once folks stop fighting over ideology, we will be able to start working to put this country back on a solid fiscal path.

Celebrating Agriculture

USDA Celebrates 150 Years

In his first term as president, Lincoln signed legislation to establish the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  For 150 years, USDA has heeded President Lincoln’s vision of the ‘People’s Department.’ Protecting our nation’s food supply, providing support to our farmers and rural communities, conserving our natural resources, developing new markets, and investing in the future through agriculture research, biotechnology and innovation are just a few of the ways USDA impacts the lives of all Americans.

Looking forward to the next 150 years, USDA will continue to lead the way, protecting global food security and meeting the world’s growing food needs while keeping consumers informed, promoting America’s farmers, and investing in rural communities.

image004.jpg@01CD34DD.197CD2C0

Minnesota farm in 1895. 

This photo was submitted to The Land magazine (Mankato) by Brad and Sue Schultz (Jordan) and later published in 2008.

Update from Agriculture Committee

Two House Agriculture Committee Subcommittees held hearings this week to review commodity programs, crop insurance, energy and forestry programs in advance of a new farm bill.

Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance 

For the most part, I think the Senate’s farm bill gets it right. What I’m concerned about though is that it seems they’ve tried to create a one size fits all commodity program. I don’t think that’s possible; we simply don’t have the necessary resources to create a single program that will work for all commodities in all regions.

I know there’s a lot of interest in a shallow loss program; if prices were to collapse today, the various proposed shallow loss programs would provide a fair safety net for this year. But my concern is with what happens when these prices go down – which they will – and stay down as has happened in the past. I’ve always been a big fan of target prices because it gives farmers a price floor on which they can rely. I think this is most likely our best bet for a safety net when prices collapse and take time to rebound.

Crop insurance is widely supported across the countryside and is a key farm safety net feature. But, if prices go down and stay low, the revenue insurance will become less appealing and farmers are going to find themselves insuring for a loss. Again, that is why I am interested in target prices.

Energy and Forestry

The energy programs within the 2008 Farm Bill, such as REAP and the Biorefinery Loan Program, give agriculture producers and rural areas the tools they need to be more energy efficient, lowering their operating costs while also helping them continue to be an important renewable energy source for all of America.

The 2008 Farm Bill contained a forestry title that sought to establish national priorities for forestry assistance, created a new program for open space and included several provisions that sought to highlight the importance of private forestland stewardship. We’re going to have to take a hard look at each program and see whether or not we are accomplishing our goals.

2012 Congressional Sporting Event

5/15: This week the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus held their annual Congressional Shoot-Out and Industry Challenge, an event which brings together industry experts, sportsmen and women, and Members of Congress for a day of fun and discussion on hunting and fishing policy. The competition is comprised of three events: Sporting Clays, Skeet, and Trap. This year I had the honor of winning the sporting clays round of the competition.  Over the years this has proven to be a great event, enabling members of Congress to put partisanship aside and come together over mutual interest in shooting and sportsmen’s issues.

Peterson Pics

5/16: I discussed the impact of fresh fruit and vegetable programs in public schools with Jo DeBruycker (American Heart Association - Willmar) and Annette Derouin (Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Willmar Public Schools)

 

5/16:  I met with Becky Cusey (Moorhead) and Minnesota / North Dakota members of the National Realtors Association, where we discussed the importance of flood insurance programs in the region, short sale contracts, and the Federal Housing Administration.