Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 6/9/2017

Jun 16, 2017 Issues: Education, Transportation

Beardsley Water Tower
in Big Stone County

Dear Friends,

While U.S. Senate Hearings dominated the headlines, I spent much of this week in Washington D.C. meeting with constituents who are focused on improving the infrastructure of their communities. I also welcomed the Premier of Manitoba to my office as part of the ongoing conversation surrounding NAFTA renegotiation and trade between Canada and the United States. On another trade issue, an agreement in principal was reached between the U.S. and Mexico which could have significant impact on our local sugar producers. I also met with many of our homegrown advocates and producers, including the National Young Farmers Coalition, the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, and Minnesota Agri-Women. Finally, I’d like to congratulate all of the students graduating across the Seventh District on their accomplishments! 

Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Graduation

Photo courtesy of Taylor Lunemann, Long Prairie Leader

I was honored to speak at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle’s (LPGE) secondary school graduation ceremony, where 66 bright Minnesota students culminated their public education. Graduations are a time of celebration, as well as commitment to continuing to grow and develop as broader members of our community. I have no doubt that these recent graduates will go on to make a difference. Congratulations to LPGE class of 2017 and to all of our graduates across the 7th District!

Minnesota Transportation Alliance

Meeting with the members of the MN Transportation Alliance; addressing the group

Members of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance visited Washington this week to share their perspective on maintaining and improving the state’s transportation systems. While the passage of last year’s FAST Act helps states and local governments use federal funds when developing projects, I will continue to pursue long-term solutions to improve roads and bridges in the Seventh. I am also committed to working closely with Minnesota’s counties and cities to ensure that vital programs such as the TIGER Grant and Essential Air Service (EAS) continue to serve greater Minnesota.

Minnesota Association of Small Cities

I met with members of the Minnesota Association of Small Cities (MAOSC) this week to discuss their legislative priorities in the 115th Congress. MAOSC, which represents the 707 cities in Minnesota with populations of fewer than 5,000, advocates for the unique economic, infrastructure, housing, and public health needs of small cities. Many of the state’s small cities are in the 7th district, and I will continue to work with local leaders and legislators to help develop them into thriving rural communities.

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister

Premier of Manitoba, Brian Pallister

Building constructive relationships with our Canadian friends is more important than ever as the North American Free Trade Alliance (NAFTA) undergoes possible renegotiation. Brian Pallister was elected Premier of Manitoba last year as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba. We discussed the Northwest Angle and the border challenges there, changing leadership in both of our countries, and increasing awareness of travelers who have attempted risky border crossings at the U.S.-Canadian border. I look forward to an ongoing cooperative relationship with Premier Pallister as we look toward mutual solutions to a dynamic trade relationship.

National Young Farmers Coalition

Matthew Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Organics in Hutchinson and Andrew Bahrenburg of the National Young Farmers Coalition came to talk about the special needs of young and beginning farmers, including the high price of land and access to financing. It was a pleasure to meet them. I'm optimistic about the future of agriculture after having spoken to these energetic young men.  

Minnesota Grain and Feed Association

Bob Zelenka, Laura Lemke

On Wednesday, two representatives from the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association – Bob Zelenka and Laura Lemke – stopped by my office to discuss current issues in agriculture. We talked about the next farm bill and how the Conservation Reserve Program affects grain elevators and the feed mill industry. I appreciate their viewpoints and the work of their organization in spurring the farm and rural economy in Minnesota.

CHI St. Gabriel’s Health

Representatives of CHI St. Gabriel’s Health visited my office this week to provide an update on  their rural health initiatives. CHI facilities have long been leaders in telemedicine, mental health, and outpatient services in central Minnesota, and I look forward to their continued success.

2017 Freedom to Fly Award

Jim Coon (Senior Vice President, AOPA Government Affairs)

This week, I was honored to receive the 2017 Freedom to Fly Award from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) for my dedication to general aviation. As a member of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, I understand that aviation is an important part of transportation and recreation in western Minnesota that must be preserved.

Minnesota Agri-Women

Eleanor Peterson (WARREN), Margaret Jirava (OGEMA), Karolyn Zurn (CALLAWAY), Anne Simmons

My staff members Anne Simmons and Rebekah Solem met with Minnesota Agri-Women representatives who were in Washington for the American Agri-Women Legislative Fly-In. They talked about their priority issues, including the next farm bill, infrastructure, and the importance of a reliable agriculture workforce. I look forward to working with them on these important issues for Minnesota agriculture.

Sierra Club

Hanna Gilroy, Sarah Follmer, McKenzie Dice (MORRIS), Fiona Wu (MORRIS), Cait Anderson, Valeriya Epshteyn

My staff aide Zach Martin met with several students from the Midwest to discuss the effects of a changing climate around the world. Women and children are disproportionally affected by natural disasters. I am continually impressed by the activism of young Americans and their commitment to working toward solutions to difficult problems, such as global poverty.

Garden Valley’s 112th Annual Meeting

My staff member joined a big crowd at the Win-E-Mac School auditorium in Erskine to participate in the annual Garden Valley Telephone Coop. meeting. Attendees elected three board members, visited demonstrations of new products and heard updates on existing programs. Garden Valley has been active in expanding quality broadband services in Northwest Minnesota. Currently they have installed fiber optic cable to more than 7,000 homes in 24 exchanges. Garden Valley will have another groundbreaking expansion near Thief River Falls starting on June 28.

2017 Rural Arts and Culture Summit

This week my staff attended the Rural Arts and Culture Summit hosted on the University of Minnesota Morris Campus. The mission of the Summit was to “celebrate the transformative power of arts-based community development in rural America by bridging conversations between rural artists, arts organizations, community leaders and change-makers; and to cultivate strong cultural partnerships that build thriving communities.” Art in all forms has the power to bring people together and encourage community conversations. It’s wonderful to see events like this hosted in the 7th District. I look forward to seeing new ideas inspired by the Summit.

Legislative Update

Agriculture Committee Update

On Wednesday, the Agriculture Committee held a hearing to discuss the future of international food aid and agricultural development. As trade deals continue to dominate the discussion, it is worth pointing out that 11 of our top 15 trading partners in 2017 were once recipients of U.S. assistance. Unfortunately, the budget put forward by the administration would completely eliminate two key U.S. Assistance programs: the Food for Peace Program and McGovern-Dole. I urged the administration and members of Congress to consider the testimony from the hearing and look to the work we did as part of the last farm bill to improve these programs when considering potential budget cuts.

The Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition held a hearing Thursday morning, continuing the Committee’s review of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) but with the focus on technology and modernization. Learning more about technology will help the Committee to know what changes, if any, might be needed in the next farm bill to ensure that SNAP is operating as efficiently as possible.


U.S.-Mexico Sugar Agreement

On Tuesday, the Department of Commerce announced an agreement in principle between the United States and Mexico on the importation of Mexican sugar. This deal is an improvement over current agreements that have hurt U.S. sugar growers but the details will be important. It is disappointing that the agreement in principle appears to leave in place a loophole that keeps the door open to dumping. Mexico and sugar users could annually petition for excess refined sugar to be allowed into the United States. Leaving this loophole in place doesn’t make sense. It needs to be closed to adequately address unfair Mexican trade practices. I encourage the Department of Commerce to follow its commitment to strictly monitor and enforce the agreement and the Department of Agriculture to continue its management of the sugar program in the best interest of the U.S. sugar industry.

Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Development Grant

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Office of Broadband Development, will be soliciting proposals from qualified organizations for Minnesota “Border to Border” Broadband Development Grants. The grant application period opens on July 3, 2017. The application deadline is 4:00 p.m. Monday, September 11, 2017.

If you have any questions, you can call 651-259-7610 or email the Broadband office at or look through the Broadband Grant Program FAQs. The FAQs will be updated throughout the grant application process as new questions come in. You can find the application online here: 2017 Broadband Grant Application (including the scoring criteria)

This Week in American History

This week, in 1871, the Duluth Ship Canal was completed. The canal connects Duluth harbor directly to Lake Superior, allowing more than a thousand vessels a year to ship from the Duluth-Superior Port. This canal also supports the United State’s first transporter bridge, which still stands as a well known landmark today.

Spotted in the Seventh

Can YOU guess what was Spotted in the Seventh? Each week, the newsletter will feature a landmark or site somewhere in Western Minnesota. The first person to name the location wins! The location of the photo as well as the winner will be revealed in the next newsletter.

This week’s landmark is a state park, which despite its name, is located in a county without any natural lakes. Instead, this park is centered on a reservoir built in 1937…

Congratulations to Roland Rauenhorst of Olivia for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the Bergquist Cabin in Moorhead!

Share your guess on our website –

Carlie Swart (RENVILLE)