Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 8/29/2014

Ribbons from the Fair

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate the “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” we are reminded of the vital role the dairy industry plays in our nutrition and economy. For this reason, I’m pleased that beginning September 2 dairy farmers will be able to sign up for a new safety net program I worked to include in the 2014 Farm Bill. I spent time with city, county, college, and healthcare leaders from the 7th this week to discuss the implementation of Farm Bill programs, strategize flood recovery efforts, and tour business and educational facilities that serve the 7th. Finally, as August comes to a close, we honor the foundation of our country, the working people of the United States, on Labor Day.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District


County Commissioners Paul Setzepfandt (BIRD ISLAND), LaMont Jacobson (SACRED HEART), Bob Fox (FRANKLIN), John Stahl (OLIVIA), and Randy Kramer (BIRD ISLAND)

Communities across the 7th continue to repair roadways, ditches, and other infrastructure following this year’s record-setting severe weather. My meeting with the Renville County Board of Commissioners focused on the regional conservation partnerships included in the 2014 Farm Bill that could allocate up to $1.4 billion to assist with the type of flood damage impacting the District. These private and public partnerships to build water retention systems are more farmer- and producer-friendly than any we’ve previously had. We also discussed legislation pertaining to reauthorization of the Highway Bill, and the importance of railroads in allowing products to travel to and from the area. More coverage from the West Central Tribune is available here.

Southern MN Beet Sugar Cooperative

Kyle Petersen (Chairman), Kelvin Thompsen (President, CEO)

On Tuesday, I met with members of the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville during their annual summer growers meeting. I was pleased to report that the U.S. sugar program remains intact under the new farm bill. I encouraged growers to study the options available to them under the new farm bill. Whether to enroll in the Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) program or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program will be a very important one-time decision for the 5 year length of the legislation. I urge all farmers to study the programs to see how they will impact individual farm situations. 

Sparboe Farms

Beth Sparboe-Schnell (President), Mark Tellen (Director of Operations)

Sparboe Farms invited me to visit their recently renovated Prairie complex, Minnesota’s first and largest in-line egg production facility, in Litchfield this week. My tour of the company’s new “enrichable” barns demonstrated the safe and efficient egg production and hen care available through state-of-the art processing facilities, with the best possible laying environments for hens and safer work conditions for employees. Following my tour, executives and managers from Sparboe Farms, as well as local business leaders, joined me where I provided an overview of the Farm Bill and answered questions regarding Minnesota’s new minimum wage requirements and healthcare costs, California’s egg law, and EPA’s proposed rules for waters of the United States.

Sparboe University

Sparboe University, a feature of Sparboe Farms, frequently hosts educational speakers for their employees on a variety of topics, including nutrition and agricultural sciences.

Custom Products of Litchfield, Inc.

Al Nordquist (Financial Manager), Dee Schutte (Executive Director, LITCHFIELD Chamber of Commerce) Randy Reinke (CEO, Custom Products), Scott Maki (Operations Manager, Custom Products)

Custom Products, founded in 1959 as a sheet metal shop, has since centered its efforts into manufacturing cabs and protective structures for industrial off-highway vehicles. Custom Products invited me for a tour of the plant, and we talked about their plan to expand the Litchfield facility by 20,000 square feet. The Minnesota Job Creation Fund, which assists business in creating employment opportunities for Minnesotans, will provide funds for the expansion that will create 31 new jobs in the area.

Long Prairie CentraCare Health System

Dave Larson, Dan Swenson, Mark Larkin, Sally Hanson, Elysha Gellerman, Dr. Dylan Folkestad, Dave Borgert, Caitlin Hites

On Thursday I toured Long Prairie Hospital. Our rural hospitals play an important role in providing access to care, one of the biggest challenges facing rural health care. This CentraCare Health facility includes a critical access hospital, clinic, and long term care facility and employs more than 250 people. With my support, CentraCare recently received a grant from the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine program to expand their services and address this need. By focusing on areas like tele-stroke, tele-cardiology, and tele-ER, CentraCare plans to use this grant to provide quality care to patients in their home communities and streamline transfer to save lives.

Breaking ground for construction of the CentraCare Health System’s assisted living building project


Tim Rice (President, Lakewood Health System), Mark Schmitz (Superintendent, Staples Motley Schools), Chad Coauette (Executive Director, National Joint Powers Alliance), Larry Lundblad (President, Central Lakes College), Barb Becker (Todd County Commissioner), Jerel Nelsen (Community Development Director, City of Staples), Chris Etzler (Mayor, Staples), Keith Olander (Associate Dean of Agriculture, Central Lakes College), Nathan Mathews (City Administrator, Staples), Matt Gottschalk (Staples Police Chief)

City, county, college, and hospital leaders from Staples brought me up to date on several developments in the area, including the success of a new railroad overpass and the possible extension of the project into a bike path. We also discussed the Renewable Fuel Standard, implementation of the farm bill, and roll out of the new dairy rules.

Central Lakes College Agriculture and Energy Center

Larry Lundblad (President, Central Lakes College), Christopher Hadfield (Dean, Career and Technical Programs), Ronn Redemske (Instructor), Keith Olander (Dean, Agriculture and Energy)

Central Lakes College welcomed me for a tour of their campus this week. Some of the classrooms I saw were for robotics, machining, and diesel engine repair. I learned that the College provides a two-year program offering a degree in Agriculture, and a precision agriculture pilot program in conjunction with the Little Falls High School. I also learned about the Agriculture and Energy Center of Excellence, whose irrigation and groundwater management programs consistently provide research to farms and businesses. In an evolving agricultural industry, careers in technical fields are becoming increasingly important.  

Hewitt City Council

Donald Fitzgerald, Alice Melzer, Alex Weego (Hewitt City Council), Michael Dagon (City Clerk), Trinity Gruenberg (Independent News Herald)

I met Thursday afternoon with City Council members in Hewitt. On July 10th the community received almost 10 inches of rain in a short amount of time. We talked about their flood recovery efforts to public infrastructure and to the residences that were impacted with basement flooding. Newsstand

Margin Protection Program

USDA announced on Thursday that enrollment for the dairy Margin Protection Program will begin September 2. The new program was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and aims to address volatility in the dairy marketplace. The program provides dairy farmers with a safety net when margins, the difference between milk prices and feed, fall below the farmer’s coverage level. Shortly after dairy prices collapsed in 2008, I began working with dairy farmers across the country to develop a new safety net that would address the realities of today’s dairy industry. These conversations formed the basis of the farm bill’s Margin Protection Program. The program is significant reform, creating a strong safety net that will help dairy farmers better manage their risk. I’m pleased to see USDA moving ahead with implementation. Dairy farmers should visit their local FSA offices to learn more and enroll. An online resource to help determine the most suitable coverage level is available here.

Minnesota State Fair

Attracting nearly two million fairgoers a year, the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” is underway. Exhibiting Minnesota’s best entertainment, livestock, art, products, services, and (of course) food, the Minnesota State Fair is the largest fair in the country by average daily attendance. Among the most popular attractions are the livestock competitions in the fair Coliseum. 4-H also has a distinct presence at the fair, including displays of herdsmanship and showmanship, and public presentations regarding animal science, food and nutrition, clothing and textiles, and the arts. 

County Courthouse Tour

Renville County Courthouse 1925/Present

Built in 1872, the original Renville County courthouse also served as the county prison. It wasn’t until Olivia won an ongoing battle for county seat in 1900 that an official courthouse was built to serve the court, which had previously convened in a local business. The red-brick structure is trimmed with yellow stone, features segmented domes, and boasts a prominent central tower. With the exception of the roofing material, the courthouse appears much as it did in after its completion in 1902.

This Week in American History

Martin McLeod, 1830’s, McLeod County

Born in Montreal on August 30th, 1813, Martin McLeod traveled to Fort Snelling to begin his career as a fur trader in the Minnesota Valley. As a young man, he was part of the 1836 James Dickinson expedition to the Red River of the North. Later in his life, McLeod was elected to represent the Minnesota territory in 1849, where he championed funding for Minnesota schools. McLeod County is named in Martin’s honor, as he was one of the first to settle the area. 

Visitors from the 7th

Sabina and Ava Laughlin (EAST GRAND FORKS), Julie Laughlin (Grand Forks)

Sonya Petersen, Mark and Angela Dahlberg (WILLMAR), Jodi and Carl Fiskness (FLOODWOOD)

Kyla Athman (LITCHFIELD)

2014 Congressional Art Competition