Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 7/14/2017

Jul 17, 2017 Issues: Education, Energy, Health

Chippewa County

Dear Friends,

This week I sat down with the Minnesota Soybean Growers, the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, and the Minnesota Farm Bureau to discuss farm bill issues. It’s important for lawmakers to hear directly from those who are impacted by farm bill programs. As Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, I recently announced three farm bill listening sessions that will give Committee members the opportunity to sit down with local farmers and producers and discuss what matters most to our agriculture community. I hope you will be able to join me at the listening session planned for Farmfest on August 3.

Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Minnesota Soybean Growers

I met with the Minnesota Soybean Growers on Wednesday to talk about their priorities and concerns. We discussed the farm bill’s ARC and PLC programs, the Federal Crop Insurance program, biodiesel, tax reform, trade, and health care, among other issues. I always appreciate meeting with agriculture groups and hearing their thoughts on how federal programs are working on the ground and what can be improved. I look forward to continuing to work with Minnesota Soybean and other commodity groups on the next farm bill.

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

I met with members of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association this week. We discussed issues such as trade and opening relations with other markets, as well as immigration and labor challenges. Rural areas are experiencing shrinking populations, and it is critical that we find a stable labor force for our farms. Minnesota is the number one producer of turkeys in the United States, and I look forward to continuing to work with turkey growers on issues important to their industry.

Minnesota School Superintendents

This week, members representing the American Association of School Administrators, the School Superintendents Association, stopped by to discuss education priorities in Minnesota. I was lucky to have a moment to meet with these gentlemen and discuss issues facing our rural schools. I thoroughly enjoy working with school administrators as they see the needs of our students on a daily basis. I will continue to work for increased localized control while protecting our public schools so everyone has the opportunity to receive a good education.

Minnesota Farm Bureau

I met with Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap to talk about a number of issues impacting Minnesota farmers. We discussed next month’s Agriculture Committee Listening Session at Farmfest. I am looking forward to receiving comments from Minnesota farmers ahead of the next farm bill. We also had a good discussion on health care and options to help find a solution that will help Minnesota farmers and other rural Minnesotans.

South Country Health Alliance

Yesterday, County Commissioners Scott Windschitl (Brown County) and Brad Anderson (Goodhue County), as well as HHS Director Jackie Och (Todd County), visited my office with a group of South Country Health advocates to discuss the important role county-based health plans play in our communities. Through these innovative health plans, individual counties are able to ensure residents enrolled in Minnesota Health Care Programs have access to greater health services. South Country Health serves 12 counties throughout Minnesota, including Todd and Sibley Counties, where they work with social services, health care providers, and local governments to coordinate health care plans. I am glad to support organizations like these that provide on-the-ground help to Minnesotans.

Otter Tail Power

On Thursday, my staff, along with staff members from Sen. Klobuchar's office, met with a team from Otter Tail Power Company to tour the Fergus Falls Hoot Lake Plant and to learn more about their mission and goals for the future. The Hoot Lake Plant will be retired in 2021 and will be replaced by natural gas and wind generation. Otter Tail Power serves more than 130,000 customers in more than 400 primarily rural communities, while employing almost 800 employees across western Minnesota and the Dakotas.

340B Health

This week representatives from 340B Health came by my office to share the impact of safety-net providers and programs which help keep the cost of prescription drugs low. There are more 40 rural critical-care hospitals that serve low-income patients in the Seventh District. The 340B drug pricing program is often the only way to find accessible and affordable medications. I will continue to support programs like 340B as we work to ensure quality care for all Minnesotans.

Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association

This week my staff attended the Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association Summer Beef Tour hosted in rural Starbuck. It was a great showcase of cattle farms in the area and their commitment to the industry as well as their communities.

AURI Workshop

My staff attended a workshop on bio-based road preservation and related products. It was hosted by the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the city of Hutchinson and Minnesota Soybean. These bio-based products could create new opportunities for soy use while minimizing investment costs and preserving our roadway infrastructure. I look forward to hearing more from the communities that are using these products on how they perform over time. Products like these are important advancements for agriculture, communities and taxpayers.

Policy on the Porch

This week my staff along with staff from Sen. Franken’s office met with a small group of organic farmers in rural Glencoe on the Fitzgerald Organic Farm. They explained how each of their farms operate and shared insights about the challenges of starting and maintaining an organic farm. I appreciate their willingness to share their concerns and ideas to improve farm policy in the next farm bill.

Water Control Structures

In 2011, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service requested Ducks Unlimited provide biological and engineering assistance to design and install four new variable crest water control structures to enhance all four wetlands contained within Anderson WPA. DU secured a state grant appropriation for the project from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council in 2012. DU completed design plans in 2013. USFWS then secured construction permits and successfully completed construction of the project in 2014.

The dedication drew a large crowd of friends, neighbors, contributors and officials including Tom Melius, Midwest Regional Director USFWS, Ruth Hoefs, Minnesota State Chair-DU and members of my staff. 

Legislative Update

Agriculture Committee Update

The Agriculture Committee this week continued our series of hearings ahead of the next farm bill. On Wednesday, the full Committee met for a hearing on technology and innovation in specialty crops. Since the 2008 Farm Bill, I’ve been particularly interested in the role specialty crop production has in a healthy agriculture economy and in providing healthy foods to consumers. Specialty crops are in a very unique position. Consumer demand is increasing but natural resources remain fixed and the labor supply is shrinking. It seems to me that the key to being successful will be through the wise use of technology and with an optimum regulatory structure that allows innovation to flourish.

The Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing Thursday morning, “The Future of Farming: Technological Innovations, Opportunities, and Challenges for Producers.” There’s been a lot of progress made with data technology in agriculture in recent years. These improvements have the potential to provide huge benefits to not just farmers, but consumers, and the economy as a whole. 


The Next Farm Bill, Conversations in the Field

The House Agriculture Committee recently announced three farm bill listening sessions to gather stakeholder input, including a session at Farmfest on August 3. These listening sessions are a continuation of the Committee’s review of farm bill programs and I’m looking forward to hearing directly from farmers and others impacted by the farm bill. Real world examples of what is, and maybe isn’t, working will help better inform Committee members when we begin the task of writing a new farm bill. I hope to see many of you at Farmfest!

This Week in American History

Balaton c. 1892; Balaton today

This year Balaton is recognizing its 125th anniversary, celebrating over a century and a quarter since the town was founded in 1892. The Balaton Area Historical Center has published a project of stories and family histories collecting over the last 25 years, which have been added to the Center’s centennial book. You can read more online here.

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 encourages all who visit it to “walk” down memory lane and remember those who have given all in their service to our country...

Congratulations to Brian Sage of Angle Inlet for being the first to correctly identify our last location as U.S. Customs and Border Protection land crossing in Warroad!

Share your guess on our website –

“Swedish Fish”
Lydia Stephens (FERGUS FALLS)