Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 7/15/2016
Itasca State Park
As Congress prepares for a six week district work period, I spent the past few days in Washington welcoming several groups into my D.C. office. I met with the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Minnesota Turkey Growers, and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative to talk about issues important to our farmers, such as the GMO Labeling Bill which passed the House of Representatives this week. I was happy to also welcome several health groups to D.C. as well, including Lake Region Healthcare, 340B Healthcare, and the Minnesota Home Care Association. The Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s proposed rule, and I led 17 Members of Congress in a letter calling on the EPA to increase the renewable fuel blending targets in the final rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Finally, it was nice to hear so many stories about Minnesotans coming together to help those affected by the storms that swept through Minnesota this week.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Storms in the Seventh
On Monday evening, thunderstorms produced at least four tornadoes across central Minnesota, hitting the Watkins and northwest Litchfield areas the hardest. In response, I’d like to share some information on emergency, preventative, and relief efforts beneficial to our district. My staff has been attending the response and recovery meetings and will continue to work with local officials as we recover from this disaster.
- The Department of Commerce’s Consumer Services Center (CSC) is available to help consumers with questions, concerns, or complaints following a damaging storm, flood, or tornado as has produced the 2016 Disaster Response Guide for quick reference on opportunities available to those whose businesses have been damaged by the storms.
- The CSC can be reached by phone at (651) 539-1600 or (800) 657-3602 (Greater Minnesota) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit Commerce Department’s Disaster Information Center online via https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/your-home/protect/dic/.
- The latest version of the FEMA mobile app has several features to support individuals before, during, and after a disaster. App features include:
- Weather Alerts: Sign up for National Weather Service alerts to stay updated on severe weather forecasts impacting family and friends.
- Preparedness Information: Receive tips to survive natural disasters and customize your emergency checklist.
- Safety Reminders: Set reminders that will alert you when it’s time to change smoke alarm batteries, replenish emergency supplies kits, and practice your family’s emergency communications plan.
- Disaster Resources: If a disaster occurs, search for shelters and Disaster Recovery Centers in your area.
Download the FEMA app at www.fema.gov/mobile-app
- For additional relief efforts and opportunities to donate, please visit https://www.cityofwatkins.com/ .
Minnesota Turkey Growers
The National Turkey Federation had their annual DC fly in this week. I met with several growers and company representatives from Minnesota to discuss issues relevant to their industry. I also co-authored a letter with Rep. Rouzer to seek solutions to unscientific trade barriers for turkey products bound for export. Other issues raised by the industry was GMO labeling, USDA’s organic livestock and poultry rule, and avian influenza. I will continue to support a strong turkey industry and appreciate getting the opportunity to visit with the industry and growers from Minnesota.
Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative
On Wednesday, I met Steve Domm, the incoming CEO of the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, along with the outgoing CEO, Kelvin Thompson, and Chris Long, a co-op board member. We talked about their leadership transition and the challenges facing beet growers. In particular, we discussed how the GMO Labeling bill that passed the House this week will help to standardize the national food distribution market.
Minnesota Soybean Growers Association
Members of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association visited my Washington office this week as they were in town for the American Soybean Association Board Meeting. I was glad to welcome and congratulate the new President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers, Theresia Gillie of Hallock. We had a good discussion about important topics such as GMO labeling, trade, aquaculture, current farm programs, and the next farm bill.
White Earth Tribal Nation
Alan Roy, Eugene Tibbetts, Ken Fox, Leonard Fineday, Terrence Tibbetts, and Michael LaRoque
On Tuesday, I met with the Terrence Tibbetts, the new Chairman of the White Earth Nation, and other representatives of the tribe to discuss ways in which the tribe administers critical programs to its members and ways to strengthen these efforts. They are also looking to expand the school lunch program so students have access to traditional options like wild rice.
Renewable Fuel Standard Letter
This week, I led 17 members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus in a letter calling on the EPA to increase the renewable fuel blending targets in the final rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The agency has fallen behind in setting blend targets that take into account Congressional intent of the RFS. While the proposed rule is an improvement, the EPA needs to do more to get the program back on track.
Randall Doyal (Claremont)
My staff aide Zach Martin met with Randall Doyal of Al-Corn, an ethanol plant in Claremont, MN. This week I led a letter signed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to the EPA urging the agency to get the RFS rulemaking back on track and support ethanol plants like Al-Corn which produce a renewable and homegrown fuel.
This week Growth Energy’s new CEO, Emily Skor visited my office for the first time after joining the ethanol trade association. We talked about the long road it has taken to get ethanol, or gasohol as it was known back in the 1970s, to where we are today at over 10 percent of the market. We also talked about the challenges the industry faces today, and barriers consumers have when they try to find stations that offer higher blends of ethanol. Emily was joined by her predecessor Tom Buis, who I have worked with on agriculture and ethanol issues for a number of years.
I met with representatives of 340B Health this week to discuss how best to maintain affordable healthcare for vulnerable patient populations. More than 40 rural hospitals in the 7th rely on the 340B drug pricing program to help provide discounted medication to patients who might otherwise have to travel great distances and pay unaffordable prices. I will continue to support 340B Health as they work to enhance Minnesota’s safety-net providers and critical community health services.
Minnesota Credit Union Association
This week I met with Mara Humphrey, Kayla Reiffenberger, Tom Smith, and David Larson to discuss National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) proposals and the state of credit unions in rural Minnesota. Credit Union members highlighted the need for regulatory relief for credit unions and small community banks which were caught up in Dodd-Frank reforms, and discussed the good work they do across rural Minnesota to provide financing and general depository services. Credit unions often fill the void in areas underserved by banks and I appreciate the work these individuals do and look forward to continuing to work together to enact policies that lessen burdensome regulations for rural America.
Minnesota Farm Bureau
Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap
On Tuesday, I visited with Kevin Paap and Amber Hanson of Minnesota Farm Bureau about agriculture issues important to Minnesota farmers. Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap was in Washington for a meeting of all Farm Bureau state presidents. We discussed GMO labeling, which was on this week’s agenda, and also talked about the upcoming Minnesota Farmfest, which will be held in Redwood Falls in early August.
AMI Hot Dog Lunch
This Thursday we celebrated National Hot Dog Month with the American Meat Institute by hosting the Annual AMI Hot Dog Luncheon. I was honored to once again serve as a co-host of this fun tradition. The lunch showcases several meat producing companies, including the Minnesota based Hormel, and helps share an American family favorite.
Rollcall’s Office Space
"Office Space" is produced by Roll Call each week to take you inside Capitol Hill offices to show a part of lawmakers' personality that you don't see in committee rooms and news conferences. In Roll Call’s last Office Space before the summer recess, I was able to show off the office of Minnesota’s 7th district! Watch it here.
Missouri River Energy Services
My staff aide Zach Martin met with CEO Tom Heller and representatives from Missouri River Energy Services to talk about ways to keep electricity rates affordable for Minnesotans. For example, I have long supported tax exempt municipal bonds because they provide critical financing opportunities for local communities to invest in electrical infrastructure projects for their customers.
Patrick Jennissen, Brenda Jennissen and their daughter Maizie; Patrick and Brenda both work for Felling Trailers.
Employees from Felling Trailers, in Sauk Centre visited the office this week as part of the National Association of Trailer Manufactures annual conference to Washington, D.C. The association is responsible for making sure its member companies adhere to federal safety regulation by encouraging all trailer manufactures to verify compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards to ensure safer roadways.
Minnesota Home Care Association
A delegation from the Minnesota Home Care Association visited my office this week on behalf of the state’s home healthcare agencies. As a co-sponsor of the “Home Health Care Planning and Improvement Act,” I am committed to making more convenient, less expensive, and improved home health care services available to Minnesotans.
Bill Adams, a healthcare consultant for Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, met with my staff this week to discuss his efforts to strengthen “tweener hospitals” across the 7th. Tweener hospitals are facilities that are too large to be considered Critical Access Hospitals, yet too small to take advantage of certain economies of scale like urban hospitals. I look forward to working with Bill in securing fair reimbursement rates for tweener hospitals and the patients they serve.
Southwest Regional Development Commission
My staff assistant Meg Louwagie attend the Southwest Regional Development Commission Annual meeting this week where the SRDC 2016 Regional Project of the Year was awarded to the Marshall GreenStep Cities Health Impact Assessment Project. The main goal of this project was to outline the health benefits of the various best practices that improve the community health so that decision makers can allocate their scarce resources to the highest valued best practice.
GMO Labeling (S.764)
This week we saw a significant number of legislative bills considered as Congress prepared for the upcoming district work period. Of them, I was pleased to see S. 764 pass the House of Representatives and move on to the President’s desk. As Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, I am proud to support a bi-partisan effort to improve labeling efforts on our food. While not perfect, this bill will help improve the rural economy and better how our food is sold.
Agriculture Committee Update
The House Agriculture Committee met Wednesday to examine the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) proposed rule on automated trading. The CFTC is seeking to try to prevent future market disruptions caused or made worse by automated and algorithmic trading. This rulemaking is still open and the CFTC continues to work to get it right. I hope that this hearing adds to our understanding of this complex issue and assists the CFTC in its rulemaking.
Airport Infrastructure Improvements
The Department of Transportation awarded grants to the Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Paynesville, and Windom Airports this week, totaling over 1.9 million dollars. These grants will improve the safety and infrastructure of the facilities, as well as help create jobs locally. As I pilot, I understand firsthand how it important it is that our regional airports are up to date and able to operate safely and efficiently.
This Week in American History
This Tuesday, the Sibley County courthouse in Gaylord celebrated its centennial. Sibley County's first courthouse, built in the then county seat of Henderson, burned in 1863 along with all of the early county records. After the fire, in 1879, a two-story, Italianate brick courthouse was completed at a cost of $5,000, but was only in use until 1882 when the railroad came through Gaylord. A new settlement was platted at Gaylord, however, it was not until 1915 that Gaylord became the county seat. Two years later, the Sibley County Courthouse, shown above, was completed. James A. Burner and William H. Macomber designed the $128,786 courthouse. The building has been the Sibley County seat for 100 years.
Spotted in the Seventh
Can YOU guess what we 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 will help you remember to smile…
Congratulations to David Green of Frazee for being the first to correctly identify last week’s location as the Concordia College Bell Tower in Moorhead!
Share your guess on our website – https://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me/spotted-seventh
Visitors from the 7th
Brayden Drevlow (THIEF RIVER FALLS)
Hope Theisen, Intern for Agriculture Committee (WADENA)
Sean, Abby, Olivia, Mike, and Shannon Dahlberg (MOORHEAD)
Kendra Hammerschmidt (BLOMKEST)