Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 8/24/2018
“World’s Oldest Rock” – Yellow Medicine County
This week, I went to Washington to check on the status of the farm bill conference. I met with Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow to discuss the steps needed to complete the conference report. On Thursday, Governor Mark Dayton signed a letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) requesting an agency disaster declaration for Lyon and Redwood counties. If declared, SBA will begin offering disaster loans for businesses affected by flooding. The Minnesota State Fair opened its gates on Thursday and will be open through September 3rd. Congratulations to Rebekka Paskewitz from Browerville on being chosen as the 65th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Rebekka will have the honor of representing Minnesota’s dairy industry during the State Fair and throughout the next year.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
One Year of Northwest Angle Pilot Program
One year ago this week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officially released new border identification check technology to local resort owners after the Northwest Angle was selected as the location for a pilot program.
Two years ago, resort owners in Lake of the Woods contacted my office and raised safety concerns with the Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS) that anglers were required to use if they recreated in nearby Canadian waters. The three OARS locations, which consisted of an unheated booth with a telephone and CBP camera for visual identification purposes, were decades old and scattered across the Angle. Oftentimes anglers would return from a day-long fishing trip in Canada and travel an extra 13 miles round trip to report their return to CBP. Winter nights at the Angle are particularly cold and long, making any extended travel dangerous.
I began advocacy efforts and persuaded CBP to select Northwest Angle resorts as a testing ground for newly developed technology which would allow anglers to use tablets at the resorts to check-in with CBP. Over the past year, resorts who opted-in to the pilot program received tablets with CBP software for immediate use. Since then, the pilot has expanded to cities like Miami, FL and Buffalo, NY and is having promising results.
The Northwest Angle is an ideal place for CBP to test this new technology, and I am happy to have successfully advocated for its introduction. I know how this technology impacts tourism and the local economy.
Farm Bill Meetings in Washington, D.C.
Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow and Chairman Pat Roberts
I returned to Washington this week to check in on progress with the farm bill conference. I had meetings with my Agriculture Committee staff to review the status of discussions on resolving difference between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. I also met with Senate Agriculture Chair Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow to review the timeline and steps needed to get a conference report ready for the House and Senate to consider and pass before September 30th. We were all in agreement on the importance of getting a new farm bill passed as soon as possible.
To that end, the House and Senate Ag Committee leadership announced that there will be a public meeting of the conferees on Wednesday September 5th at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. We will share more details with how the public can view the meeting via the two committees’ websites.
Murray County Flood Damage
On Saturday, I met with Slayton Mayor Miron Carney and Murray County Emergency Manager Heath Landsman to discuss flooding damage in the community. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) and Small Business Administration (SBA) officials continue to assess the potential individual assistance for counties in the southern part of my district. They have determined that Lyon and Redwood counties have met the SBA criteria for disaster related loans.
On Thursday, Governor Mark Dayton signed a letter to the SBA requesting an agency disaster declaration for Lyon and Redwood counties based on the results of the SBA damage survey conducted last week. A declaration for Lyon and Redwood counties will also make loan programs available to residents in the contiguous counties, which are Brown, Cottonwood, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Redwood, Renville, Pipestone, and Yellow Medicine. If declared, SBA will set up disaster loan outreach centers, presumably in Marshall and Redwood Falls.
I was honored to attend and speak at Central Lakes College Ag Centric Field Day today. It was interesting to watch presentations from researchers and demonstrations of drone scouting technologies for agriculture. This year marks the 50th anniversary that Central Lakes College Ag & Energy Center has been operational. I want to congratulate them on this milestone and thank those involved for their commitment to agriculture, dedication to research and contributions towards improving the agricultural economy.
Clay County Farm Bureau
The Clay County Annual Farm Bureau meeting was held in Hawley this year, and my staff aide LeRoy Stumpf was able to attend. After the barbecue pork dinner, Bill Bergquist, the Clay County Sheriff and a deputy, spoke to the attendees. Clay County is in the process of building a new jail and law enforcement center, and Sheriff Bergquist shared how this project may affect farmers living in the area.
Norman County Farm Bureau
Norman County Farm Bureau’s Annual meeting brought folks together for an evening of informative discussion and great food. DeMetris Reed, Jr., a Ph.D candidate at North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) Meat Science Department, prepared food for the event using skills from the BBQ Boot Camp at NDSU. DeMetris is from Houston, Texas and his family has a BBQ restaurant called Sam’s Barbecue.
Livestock is an important part of the 7th District’s economy and I am glad one of my staff was able to attend this meeting. I support a strong crop and livestock economy and know how important it is for our rural communities.
Hemp Policy Discussion in Marshall
Hemp has been illegal in the United States since 1937 because of the narcotic properties of certain marijuana varieties. In recent years, growing worldwide industrial demand for hemp fiber and oil has increased pressure to legalize hemp in the United States as a potentially profitable alternative crop.
Some government drug enforcement officials are opposed to legalizing industrial hemp because they believe it could complicate the identification and eradication of the drug-producing varieties and could be perceived as undercutting national anti-drug policies. While I understand their concerns, I support H.R. 3530, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017, because it limits the delta-nine tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of industrial hemp to no more than 0.3 percent. This means that industrial hemp will not have the psychoactive effects of its marijuana varieties. I cosponsored H.R. 3530 because I believe it will regulate this agricultural product in a responsible and safe manner while allowing the U.S. to participate in the increasing global market for industrial hemp. This legislation could help create jobs while continuing to prohibit dangerous drugs and protect public safety.
Tru Shrimp Facility Commissioning in Balaton
Tru Shrimp commissioned its Balaton Bay Reef and Training Center in Balaton on Wednesday. This training facility will prepare workers for roles in Tru Shrimp’s other facilities in Luverne and Marshall. Tru Shrimp has been a pioneer in the shrimp aquaculture industry by developing methods for raising healthy shrimp in a man-made, controlled environment. Their success has allowed them to expand by constructing the “Luverne Bay Harbor” in Luverne that will house 256 shrimp tanks on roughly 30 acres near Luverne. Tru Shrimp expects its first harvest in July of 2019.
VA Mental Health Summit
My staff aide Meg Louwagie attended the 6th Annual VA Mental Health Summit on Monday. Many issues affecting veterans’ mental health were discussed at the Summit. Topics included the public health approach to suicide prevention, understanding the cause of opioid use disorders and methods for identifying those disorders, and the different treatment options available to veterans in Minnesota.
Kermit Nelson Prepares for Steam Threshers Reunion
One of my staff aides met with Kermit Nelson from Hawley this week. Kermit is putting the finishing touches on a tractor he built and hopes to bring to the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag (Aug.31 – Sept. 3). There is a build-your-own machine competition, so he built a tractor from an old John Deere swather and a John Deere manure spreader. Kermit’s tractor is fashioned after a 1910 International one-cylinder oil pull. Kermit said that in its day, it could pull a six-bottom plow with its one cylinder.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way
Rebekka Paskewitz of Bowerville became the 65th Princess Kay of the Milky Way on Wednesday. Princess Kay is chosen each year the night before the opening of the Minnesota State Fair to represent Minnesota’s dairy industry for the following year. Ms. Paskewitz’s first official duty was to sit as butter sculptor Linda Christensen carved her likeness into a 90-pound block of butter on the opening day of the state fair. Princess Kay will make appearances during the state fair, and at other events throughout the year. Congratulations to Rebekka, and to the entire Paskewitz family, for this honor.
This Week in American History
On August 22, 1912, Coya Knutson was born in Edmore, North Dakota. In 1954 she became the first female member of Congress from Minnesota, and she went on to be respected nationwide for her stance on agriculture issues and her championing of the family farmer. In 1958, however, political rivals from her own party conspired with her husband Andy Knutson to keep her from winning a third congressional term. Known as the "Coya Come Home" episode, this scandal is often said to overshadow her political record as a congresswoman.
What's the Story?
Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District is home to several public and private colleges and universities. Minnesota State University Moorhead, founded in 1887, serves roughly 6,000 students each year, offering undergraduate degrees in over 140 fields of study. The school also offers several graduate degrees and certification programs. The MSU Moorhead Dragons represent the school in NCAA Division II sports. The Dragon’s mascot shown above can be found in my office in Washington, D.C.