Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 6/19/2015

Kittson County Veteran’s Memorial

Dear Friends,

The community of Lake Bronson dedicated the Kittson County Veteran’s Memorial this week, and I was honored to speak at the event. The Minnesota Biodiesel Council visited my office to discuss the soybean industry’s contributions to renewable fuel capabilities, and I also met with Litchfield’s Custom Products to review financial policy that best supports businesses and customers. Finally, I was happy to see the House approve legislation that I cosponsored to improve medical innovation and patient care by repealing the Obamacare tax on medical devices.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Kittson County Veteran’s Memorial

Dennis Sobolick (HALLOCK) 

More than 500 members of the Lake Bronson community celebrated the dedication of the Kittson County Veteran’s Memorial on Sunday, and I was honored with an opportunity to speak to the memorial’s significance. Nearly a decade of county-wide planning went into this project, which will serve as an important reminder of the sacrifices made by rural Americans for many years to come.

Minnesota Biodiesel Council

Bill Zurn (CALLAWAY) and Ed Hegland (APPLETON)

Biodiesel is a key part of an all-the-above energy strategy that decreases our country’s dependence on foreign oil and increases the number of American jobs through our domestic renewable fuel industry. Bill Zurn and Ed Hegland of the MN Biodiesel Council stopped by my office to talk about how soybean producers are contributing to our renewable fuel capabilities.

Custom Products

Randy Reinke (President and CEO, Custom Products) (LITCHFIELD)

Randy Reinke, President & CEO of Custom Products out of Litchfield, was in DC this week to discuss the importance of trade and the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank has on his business and his customers' businesses. Custom Products, founded in 1959 as a sheet metal shop, has since centered its efforts into manufacturing cabs and protective structures for industrial off-highway vehicles. When I talk to business owners all around the district, they tell me they are worried not only about their business, but also about their customers. Without their customers, they won't be in business.

That is why I support reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. The Bank guarantees loans for foreign companies interested in buying U.S. exports and also runs other programs, such as providing insurance and credit to help small businesses secure new customers and working capital. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need things like the Export-Import Bank. There are 60 nations around the world that have similar financial services tools to help their own businesses sell and trade around the world, and the Export-Import Bank helps level the playing field for U.S. businesses.

Farm Journal Foundation

On Tuesday, I met with Karolyn Zurn (CALLAWAY) who was in Washington as part of the Farm Journal Foundation’s Farm Team program to talk about global hunger and the importance of agricultural development. As a “lead farmer” with the Minnesota Farm Team, Karolyn volunteers her time to advocating for these issues. I applaud her commitment to agriculture and her dedication to seeking solutions in the area of ag development.

National FFA Washington Leadership Conference

Carly Maanum (MORRIS), Tanya Bengtson and Klarissa Walvatne (BATTLE LAKE),
Ashlee Koehl (MORRIS), Nathan Koehl (HANCOCK)

I met with Minnesota FFA members who were in town for the annual Washington Leadership Conference held by the National FFA Organization. This trip allows students from across the United States to further develop their leadership skills by learning more about citizenship, valuing and serving others by putting what they learn to action. FFA is a great organization, and I look forward to seeing these students continue to realize their potential as leaders in agriculture and their communities.

American Seed Trade Alliance

On Wednesday, my staff aides Mike Stranz and Rebekah Solem met with Ron Wulfkuhle (Chaska), head of GreenLeaf Genetics. Mr. Wulfkuhle is also a representative of the American Seed Trade Alliance, an organization that advocates for policies related to plant genetics and biotechnology. It was very informative for the staff to discuss his views on trade, labeling laws, and research priorities.

Rural Electric Youth Tours

Steven Hervey (WHEATON), Melissa Haseman (EVANSVILLE), Maggie Scheffler (GRANITE FALLS),  Ruby Redekopp (HUTCHINSON), Amber Johnson (Sebeka), Andrea Bunich (BEMIDJI), Sam Prorok (MARSHALL), and Shantelle DesMarais (PIPESTONE)

High School students from across the 7th District and Minnesota applied to participate in the annual Rural Electric Youth Tour sponsored by 27 Minnesota electric cooperatives. Selected applicants took a trip to our nation’s capital to tour museums and monuments, visit Capitol Hill, and learn about the importance of leadership. Eight students visited my Washington office on Wednesday and spoke with my staff aide Zach Martin about daily life in Washington, DC.  

Fulda High School

Tyler Ackerman, Marcine Elder, Eli Gonzalez (FULDA)

Simple hand hygiene habits make such a difference in preventing the spread of illnesses, and by doing so we can also keep more kids in our classrooms ready to learn. Congratulations to the 9th grade Family and Consumer Sciences class at Fulda High School on receiving the Top Award for the 2015 Health Schools, Healthy People, It's a SNAP award! On Thursday, my staff aide Natalie Winters met with two students from this class and their teacher who helped to make this project such a success. Special congratulations are in order for Eli Gonzalez and Tyler Ackerman, who were selected in recognition for essays they wrote on this topic and their desire to represent the 9th grade class on this visit to Washington, D.C. The class created teaching materials and games which are used to communicate to elementary school students how easily germs can be spread and the importance of hand washing habits.

Midwest Farm Energy Conference

The University of Minnesota West Central Research & Outreach Center in Morris hosted the Midwest Farm Energy Conference this week. This first annual event showcased renewable energy and energy efficient technologies for production agriculture. In addition to presentations on a variety of agriculture and energy topics, attendees toured innovative energy systems including solar electric, solar thermal, wind, renewable hydrogen, methane digesters, and ammonia production. WCROC is on the forefront of practical renewable energy research.

Legislative Update

Medical Device Tax Repeal

This week the House passed H.R. 160, legislation that I cosponsored which would repeal the medical device tax. This 2.3 percent tax initially became law as part of Obamacare, but all it has done is drive up health care costs and cause many companies in the industry to slow or halt job creation. I supported repeal of the medical device tax because it hurts medical innovation and patient care. After seeing wide support in the House with a vote of 280-140, I am hopeful that this bill will be quickly taken up in the Senate so we can send it to the President's desk and help bring down health care costs in our country.

U.S. Cotton Futures Act

This week, the House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 2620, a bill that amends the U.S. Cotton Futures Act to allow for the development of new cotton futures contracts. This legislation modernizes cotton marketing by giving American-based futures exchanges the ability to use a new tool to handle foreign-grown cotton and foreign delivery points. It will also allow the cotton industry to better hedge against risk, which is especially important to compete in today’s global market. The House passed similar legislation last year, and I hope that my colleagues will support it again.

Resilient Federal Forests Act

The House Agriculture Committee also approved H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forest Act, to help expedite and improve forest management activities in federal forests. Environmental groups have used the court system to twist laws against agriculture, leading to policy changes determined by activists and bureaucrats. This “sue and settle” strategy creates a less transparent, less accountable process. The Resilient Federal Forest Act would simplify forest management activities as a means to reduce some of this behavior.


“How to Start a Business” Class

The West Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center will conduct a public seminar entitled “How to Start a Business” in Fergus Falls later this month. The course, funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, will guide participants in selecting an industry, crafting a business plan, and budgeting business income and expenses.

National Pollinator Week

This year’s National Pollinator Week celebrations emphasize the vital need to protect pollinator health. In addition to their ecological contributions, pollinators such as bees, birds, bats, and butterflies help sustain fruit, nut, and vegetable production systems. Congress should expand its efforts to encourage the protection of pollinator habitats and reverse pollinator population loss.

Discovering the 7th

Cultural Center

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, a “rural center for creativity, vitality, and lifelong learning in the arts,” offers visitors an opportunity to connect with the artists of Western Minnesota and beyond. Featuring an 80-seat concert listening room, two art galleries, a sculpture park, and an art residency program, the center is committed to helping display the creativity of the rural art community. 

This Week in American History

Minnesota River Watershed

By an act of Congress on June 19th, 1852, the Saint Peter’s River was renamed with its original Dakota title, “Minnesota.” Translated as either “sky-colored waters” or “muddy water,” the Minnesota River drains a watershed of nearly 17,000 square miles, spanning more than a dozen counties in the 7th District. 

Visitors from the District

Jay, Stephanie, and Maddie Thompson (Minneapolis), Deborah Lenz (ALEXANDRIA)

Ellie Swenson (FERGUS FALLS)
2015 Congressional Art Competition