Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 7/21/2017

Jul 21, 2017 Issues: Education, Energy, Spending Cuts and Debt

A summer day in the Seventh

Dear Friends,

During this busy legislative week I testified in front of the Committee on Natural Resources in support of my Gray Wolf bill, and the Agriculture Committee held two hearings to discuss our rural infrastructure and the SNAP program. The House Budget Committee also released their budget for fiscal year 2018 this week, which includes $10 billion in cuts to Agriculture Committee programs. I am opposed to these cuts and will work to ensure our farmers do not lose the benefits they depend on. Finally, on a lighter note, I enjoyed co-hosting the National American Meat Institutes Hot Dog Luncheon on Wednesday.

Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Gray Wolf Testimony

On Wednesday morning, I testified in front of the full House Committee on Natural Resources in support of my bill, the Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017. H.R. 424 would delist gray wolves in Minnesota from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and align wolf management with scientific evidence presented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency set a goal of keeping at least 1,500 wolves in Minnesota before ESA listing should be considered, and Minnesota has more than 2,400 wolves. My bipartisan bill is supported by 16 members of Congress and is based on scientific population surveys, and I hope it will move to the House floor.

You can watch my testimony by clicking here.

National Corn Growers Association

NCGA Chairman Charles Bowling, Jr. and President Wesley Spurlock

The National Corn Growers Association promotes the many distinct uses of corn, including animal feed, sweet corn, and ethanol production, to name a few, and has been advocating for more than 50 years. We discussed the Renewable Fuel Standard and ways to strengthen the program to ultimately bring improved certainty to the renewable fuels market.

NAMI National Hot Dog Luncheon

I was happy to once again celebrate National Hot Dog Month by co-hosting the National American Meat Institute’s (NAMI) Hot Dog Luncheon. NAMI is a trade association that represents companies responsible for 95 percent of red meat and 70 percent of turkey processing in the US, including Minnesota’s own Hormel. I’m proud to support our meat industry and thank everyone who stopped by to enjoy some delicious hot dogs!

Minnesota Corn Growers Association

On Thursday, members of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association stopped by the office to talk about some of the top issues they’re facing. We discussed ideas for adjusting the Conservation Reserve Program and making changes to farm safety net programs among other concerns.  I look forward to hearing from Minnesota corn growers – and many other farmers – in a couple of weeks at Farmfest.

Minnesota Telecom Alliance

This week, I met with members of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance to discuss the delivery of broadband to rural communities. Dependable internet access is critical to connecting greater Minnesota’s residents, businesses, producers, and providers to each other and the world. I appreciate the perspective of the Alliance as Congress works to provide this important service to the millions of rural Americans who still do not have the access they need.  

Green Ribbon Schools

Erika Bailey-Johnson and Anna Carlson visited Washington this week to accept the prestigious “Green Ribbon School Award” on behalf of Bemidji State University (BSU). The award, offered by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes schools that promote environmental stewardship and public health. I am happy to offer my congratulations to BSU and look forward to its continued success.

Visitors from the Seventh

The Nelsen family

I enjoyed meeting Karl and Nancy Nelsen and their family this week. Karl's grandfather was former U.S. Congressman Ancher Nelsen, who also served as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota. While the district has changed quite a bit since he served, I represent many of the same communities. The Nelsen family is from the Twin Cities area now, but Karl grew up in Staples. I am glad they could learn more about their family history on this trip.

Missouri River Energy Services

My staff aide Zach Martin met with members of Missouri River Energy Services to discuss upcoming tax reform efforts in Congress and the importance of transmission assets. Missouri River works to bring wholesale electric power to Minnesota members which have a total population of 145,018. In Congress, I will continue to advocate for policies that keep electricity rates affordable to my constituents.

Minnesota Retail Federation

Members of the MN Retail Federation stopped by to discuss the climate of the retail industry and their opposition to the current proposal to enact a Border Adjustment Tax. If the proposal becomes law it will levy a tax on all imported goods. Proponents of this tax say it will even out imbalances in money flows across borders and reduce corporations' incentive to off-shore profits. Critics of the tax argue that prices will rise on imported goods, for example from China, and that the result will be inflation.

Red River Water Management

My staff participated in a joint meeting and tour of the Red River Water Management Board and the Red River Joint Water Retention District. The Red River Basin spans 25 million acres and is home to 16 million acres of cropland and a patchwork of prairies and wetlands.  The Red River Watershed includes Minnesota, North Dakota, and part of South Dakota. 

The tour was in north eastern North Dakota and north western Minnesota, and included many water projects to control flooding, protect farmland and roads, enhance wildlife, and provide recreational opportunities for the public. These projects were in many different stages from initial planning to already completed. Federal, State, and Local agencies cooperate to make these projects possible, and I will continue to assist our community partners to support more projects in the future.

Soybean Field Day

This week, my staff attended an informative meeting with the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on the importance of soil health in crop production. The NRCS talked about soil fertility and how minimum tillage can maintain soil health by leaving crop residue. The NRCS rain machine demonstrated the holding capacity of soil with residue compared to soil without. Soil without residue had much more water run-off and erosion. There was also a discussion of other available NRCS conservation programs. Soybean production in this area is a major crop for farmers and I will continue to support best practices on farms.

Legislative Update

Agriculture Committee Update

The Agriculture Committee held a full Committee hearing on Wednesday to review the state of infrastructure in rural America. Our rural economy faces unique infrastructure challenges. At the hearing, I stressed the importance of rural broadband service which isn’t always readily available to folks in rural areas. I suggested utilizing the Universal Service Fund, along with existing USDA programs, to expand rural service.

The Subcommittee on Nutrition met on Tuesday morning for a hearing, “The Next Farm Bill: Pathways to Success for SNAP Households.” I’ve been supportive of the Committee’s SNAP review but frustrated and concerned with the focus on work rather than other issues, like categorical eligibility, where I believe we can agree on some reforms. It’s important to remember that work requirements exist under current law and have been waived at the request of both Republican and Democratic Governors.

House Budget Resolution

The House Budget Committee adopted a budget resolution for fiscal year 2018 this week that includes $10 billion in cuts to Agriculture Committee programs. The resolution specifically cites cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These proposals are the kind of political ideology that led to the failure of the 2014 Farm Bill on the House floor. This could have a very real impact on the fate of the farm bill, making it much more difficult if not impossible to pass a new bill. I believe there are areas of SNAP that can and should be reformed, and where we can reach bipartisan consensus, but these decisions are best left to the Agriculture Committee during our farm bill debate.


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

On July 20, 1858 Polk County was established and named for President James K. Polk, who was the sitting president when Congress authorized the creation of the Minnesota Territory. Today, Polk County is home to both the Rydell and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuges, and over 30,000 Minnesotans.

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 was founded in 1943, and in the years since, the museum has grown to include more than 14,000 photographs and 20,000 artifacts. ...

Congratulations to John Waller of Pelican Rapids for being the first to correctly identify our last location as the Walk of Flags in Fergus Falls!

Share your guess on our website –

Elli Stoel (PRINSBURG)