Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 6/8
Faith, Lilly, and Aiden Radermacher, children of Aaron and Jessica Radermacher (Brooten). Photo courtesy of AMPI.
Happy Dairy Month! From our communities to our county and state fairs, dairy impacts the lives of many families in Minnesota. This week's newsletter will celebrate the dairy industry and all the dairy farmers and employees in the 7th District. It will also provide an update on the farm bill and my work in Congress this week. Finally, an advisory on identity theft outlines some helpful tips to safeguard against these schemes.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Photos courtesy of First District (1-3) and AMPI (4-6). 1-Mayers' Family Dairy, Freeport 2-Cattle at Mayers' Family Dairy 3-Schefers' Dairy 4-Lilly from Brooten 5-Cattle in Ulen 6-Faith, Lilly, and Aiden's dad, Aaron
June Dairy Month is an annual celebration that began back in 1937. In its early years, Dairy Month was a way to help distribute extra milk when cows started on pasture in the summer. Today, companies and people across the United States observe Dairy Month in many ways. This year, dairy is being celebrated for its role in creating healthier people and communities. A number of area farms and community centers are hosting breakfasts, ice cream socials, and other family events open to the public - click here to find a way to celebrate Dairy Month near you.
Corey Rodewald (Ulen). Photo courtesy of AMPI.
When immigrant settlers first came to Minnesota, many families practiced subsistence farming and could provide all the essentials they needed to survive. Cows were an important resource because they provided milk for drinking, cooking, butter, and cheese. Once technology came to the frontier, farmers began to produce more grain and milk with the invention of the steam engine and farm machinery. With innovations in transportation, farmers could provide for not only their own families, but other communities as well at increasing distances.
Watch a Video: 1954 Winthrop Minnesota Dairy Days
Dairy Security Act
In 2009, the combination of declining milk prices and escalating input costs devastated the dairy industry. Many producers were forced out of business while others just barely managed to survive. The dairy safety net did not work then and it won’t work if similar events occur now. This is why I introduced the Dairy Security Act of 2011. This bill replaces outdated dairy programs with new risk management tools that address the realities of today’s dairy industry, such as rising input costs and a growing export market. I’m working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to include the Dairy Security Act in the next farm bill.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way
Each year in August, Minnesota crowns a new "Princess Kay of the Milky Way" on the night before the opening of the Minnesota State Fair. This young woman acts as ambassador for the dairy industry and the state's farmers during the Fair's 12-day celebration and throughout the rest of the year. Candidates for Princess Kay are daughters of dairy farmers, employees of dairy farms, or daughters of dairy farm employees. The 12 finalists participate in the butter sculpting exhibit (located in the Dairy Building), a six hour process that involves the image being sculpted into butter while she sits in a high tech refrigerator of sorts. As displayed in the photo above, each sculpture is carved from a 90-pound block of Grade A butter. The tradition of butter sculptures at the Minnesota State Fair first began in the late 1800's, and in 1965 the first dairy princesses had their images sculpted into butter. Today the butter sculpting booth has become one of the most popular attractions at the Fair.
Elizabeth Olson (Hutchinson) - 56th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Photo taken at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair.
Farmers Markets Near You
Farmers Markets are an important tradition in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture provides a helpful tool on their website that allows you to search for a farmers market or find local foods near you by simply entering your zipcode.
Farm Bill Update
The Senate will begin debating the farm bill next Tuesday after voting 90-8 this past week on a motion to proceed. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has said the bill could be on the Senate floor for up to three weeks as a number of amendments have been filed.
The House Agriculture Committee, meanwhile, is continuing our work so we can consider a bill after returning from this week’s district work period.
On the Floor
This week the House of Representatives passed and I supported H.R. 436, the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which repeals another provision from the health reform law, the medical device tax and restrictions on Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts. I continue to maintain that while there are some parts of the health care reform law that are worth keeping like state-run exchanges that prohibit abortion services and patient protections, there are other parts that I have a problem with like the medical device tax.
While a repeal of the entire law is unlikely, I am pleased to see that the House is working in a sensible way to address various provisions, such as repealing section 1099 requiring extensive tax reporting on small businesses, repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the CLASS Act, and a unrestrictive source of funding called the Preventive Health Fund, as well as prohibiting abortion funding throughout the health law. I look forward to more votes like these in the future.
ADVISORY: Alert Regarding Identity Theft Schemes
Refund Scam Targets Recipients of Military Disability Compensation
The IRS recently published an alert about phony refund schemes related to military disability compensation. Emails appearing to come from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services are being sent to individuals, including military members, military retirees, and civilian employees. The emails indicate that individuals who are receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs may be able to obtain additional funds from the IRS. Although the email appears to come from DFAS and displays a .mil email address it is actually from a non-government email account. Do not send your personal information or copies of your tax returns and 1099s to the individual listed in the email. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
To avoid these email schemes in the future, the IRS recommends you be suspicious of any of the following:
- Fictitious claims for refunds or rebates based on false statements of entitlement to tax credits;
- Emails from unfamiliar senders asking for personal information; and
- Internet solicitations that direct individuals to toll-free numbers and then solicit Social Security numbers or other personal information.
To learn more about how to react to suspicious e-mails, you may want to visit the following website: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=155682,00.html
Identity Theft Crackdown
This year, the IRS announced an increased crack down on identity theft schemes. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personal information without their permission to commit fraud or other crimes using the victim’s name, Social Security number or other identifying information. To learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=251501,00.html.
6/6: Students from the Minnesota State University Student Association. Pictured here: Moriah Miles (State Chair at Southwest MN State University), Russel Ferguson (Student Body President, Southwest MN State University) Kyle Berndt (Student Body President, MSU-Moorhead)
6/7: Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead
6/7: The Halbakken family from Perham stopped by my office while they visited Washington D.C. Pictured here: Michele, Wesley, Jada, and Mark Halbakken
6/7: In between votes, I stepped off the floor of the House to meet with three generations from the Aafedt family as they visited our capitol. Pictured here: Raymond Aafedt (Battle Lake), Anthony and Cody Aafedt (Dawson), Steven and Parker Rosenau (West Fargo)
6/6: National Association of Manufacturers. Pictured here: Robert Kill (President/CEO-Enterprise MN), William Gullickson (Chairman-MGK), and Al Kurtenbach (Chairman-Daktronics)
6/6: Meeting with the Central Minnesota Builders Association in an Agriculture Committee conference room
6/6: Minnesota Agriwomen. Pictured here: Karolyn Zurn, Vice Chair (Callaway) and Sue Kruger, President (Zumbro Falls)
6/7: AgriBank District Farm Credit System. Pictured here: MN Directors Mark Ellison (Elbow Lake) and Stan Claussen (Monte)