Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 6/12/2015

Jun 12, 2015 Issues: Congressional Issues, Health, Transportation

Lake Sallie

Dear Friends,

This week’s votes on trade show that more work is needed on the bills which give the President direction from Congress on how best to ensure U.S. producers get fair treatment in foreign markets, and U.S. interests are protected in any international agreement the President negotiates. While I also think this week’s rush to repeal of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken was premature, I remain hopeful that a more suitable solution can be reached to best protect producers and consumers. Finally, following the VA discovery of unbilled co-pays for veteran inpatient care, I joined members of the Minnesota and Wisconsin Congressional delegations in a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald to ensure that our veterans have access to the benefits they earned.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

American Agri-Women

On Wednesday, I spoke to the American Agri-Women about topics including GMO labeling and country of origin labeling (COOL). Founded in 1974, American Agri-Women consists of farm, ranch and agribusiness women from Minnesota and around the country who are strong agriculture advocates.

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

I met with members of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to discuss transportation funding goals and pending trade legislation in the House. I was also happy to receive the “Spirit of Enterprise” award from the delegation, which I was honored with last May.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Darcey Larsen (Registered Clinical Dietician, Riverview Health) (FERTILE)

On Tuesday, I was honored to receive the 2015 Public Policy Leadership Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for my leadership in the 2014 farm bill. They are the largest food and nutrition professional organization in the country and advocate for better food and nutrition policy to improve the way we approach preventative health care.

Canadian Consul General

On Thursday, I hosted a meeting with Congressman Nolan and representatives of the Canadian government to discuss recently imposed fees that are harmful to Minnesota fishing guides operating in border lakes. I am hopeful our continued dialogue on this issue will lead to relief for these guides who present little to no threat in Canadian labor markets but do represent a vital element in the local economies of Northern Minnesota.

U.S. Trade Representative

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman visited my office this week to discuss TPP and TPA legislation. I emphasized my concerns about Canada’s ability to make sufficient reforms in its dairy and poultry sectors to make a credible offer on market access in the TPP. 

Minnesota Propane Association

Propane is an abundant energy source used for residential and commercial space heating, farm use for grain dryers, and other uses. My staff aide Zach Martin sat down with several members of the Minnesota Propane Association to talk about this important resource. They also went over methods to avoid future propane supply shocks so the problems that occurred two winters ago doesn’t happen again.

NRECA Rural Summit

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association held a Summit on Rural America this week. I spoke to more than 100 cooperative members from across the country about the most recent farm bill and the challenges ahead. I was joined by former Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, who I worked closely with during the last two farm bills. Bipartisanship has lost its way in many committees, but not on the Agriculture Committee. This doesn’t happen by accident. You need Members who are willing to truly reach across the aisle to pass farm bills, which is important to Americans who grow our food. Rural Development also needs strong bipartisan support, finding a way to get rural folks access to high-speed internet is particularly important.

Military Matters

VA Billing Procedure

I joined members of the Minnesota and Wisconsin Congressional delegations this week in a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald seeking answers on a VA discovery of unbilled co-pays for veteran inpatient care over a five-year period. We must keep our promises to those that serve, which includes access to quality and affordable health care. I urge the VA to conduct a thorough review and provide a solution that will ensure our veterans have access to the benefits they rightly earned.

Legislative Update

CFTC Reauthorization

The House on Tuesday passed legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). I opposed the bill because of unnecessary provisions that would roll back important financial regulations and interfere with the CFTC’s ability to do its work. The CFTC regulates the futures market which is used by farmers and ranchers to hedge against risk, and the Agriculture Committee is responsible for its oversight. While I was disappointed in the House vote, I am hopeful that as the process moves forward we can come together to see a simple reauthorization signed into law.

COOL Repeal

The House on Wednesday approved a bill to repeal U.S. mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) laws for beef, pork and chicken. The repeal vote comes just a few weeks after the WTO ruled against the labeling law. I think repealing COOL is premature and spoke against the bill on the House floor. More than 60 other countries have some version of COOL and we should take the time to find a reasonable solution that works for both farmers and consumers.

Joel Heitkamp

I stopped by National Farmers Union’s Washington, D.C. office on Tuesday to join Fargo's KFGO Radio Host Joel Heitkamp for a live interview on News and Views. We discussed the House vote to repeal mandatory country of origin labeling, the avian flu outbreak affecting producers in the district, and my opposition to efforts to weaken important financial regulations.

Conservation Hearing

The Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing Thursday to review implementation of the farm bill’s conservation programs. I’ve been mostly pleased with the process but took the opportunity to ask questions about the outlook for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

T-HUD Appropriations

This week, the House narrowly passed appropriations for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development by a vote of 216-210. I voted against this legislation, because it contained a number of cuts I don't support. On the transportation side, this bill slashed funding for TIGER and New Start programs, both of which are important to meeting Minnesota’s transportation needs. On housing issues, the legislation made further cuts to public housing maintenance that displayed utter disregard for the needs of low-income families.

Gray Wolf Update

I am the lead Democratic sponsor of H.R.884, legislation directing the Interior Department to reissue its original delisting of gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming and prevent any additional judicial challenges. This language was included in the Fiscal Year 2016 Interior Appropriations bill that was released by the Subcommittee this week. This is an important step forward to ensuring Minnesota has the ability to manage gray wolf populations and assist farmers, ranchers, and families who may be harassed by problem wolves.


Dairy Month

National Dairy Month is celebrated annually in June. The celebration began as National Milk month in 1937 to promote milk consumption and stabilize dairy demand. It has since developed into an annual tradition that celebrates the worldwide contributions of the dairy industry. At the heart of this important economic engine are Minnesota dairy farmers. This month is dedicated to recognizing their commitment to ensuring the availability of healthy and nutritious dairy products.

Discovering the 7th

The Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) Natural History Museum in Willmar offers visitors educational programs and exhibits designed to develop an understanding and relationship with Minnesota’s plant and wildlife. The museum’s multimedia approach includes visual, audio, and hands-on exhibits, as well as educational seminars and guided tours of the campus greenhouse and planetarium. 

This Week in American History

The Cottonwood Oil Company, the first oil cooperative in the United States, was incorporated on June 9, 1921. The co-op provided was one of the first suppliers of reliable and affordable petroleum products in the area. Cottonwood Oil is still operating and has since expanded its services to include heating and cooling, plumbing, grain drying and equipment handling.

Visitors from the District

Adrianne Flom (Horace), Robert and Jeanne Swick (MOORHEAD), Ryan Kashmark (SABIN), Alyssa and Madison Flom (Horace), Katherine and Nathaniel Kashmark (SABIN)

Jo DeBruyker (WILLMAR), Luci and Aidan Rieland (St. Cloud), Susan Albeck (Clear Lake)

April Klimek (RAYMOND)
2015 Congressional Art Competition