Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/4/2015
2015 Minnesota State Fair
Minnesota’s poultry industry is beginning to recover from this year’s outbreak of avian flu. This week, I joined producers, health officials and state legislators in reviewing recovery efforts and biosecurity improvements that will help mitigate the impact of any future outbreak. I also met with leadership from the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and Southwest Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative to discuss recent developments in wolf management and sugar policy. Finally, I joined several of my colleagues in a letter to the Department of Labor supporting funds for skill development in advanced manufacturing.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Avian Flu Recovery
Glen Leitch (President, Jennie-O), Dr. Michelle Kromm (Chief Veterinarian, Jennie-O)
The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that spread across the Midwest last spring resulted in lost turkey and egg production which decreased Minnesota’s economy by over $650 million. This includes over $170 million in lost wages, affecting 2,500 Minnesota jobs. Kandiyohi County was ground zero for the avian flu outbreak that hit our poultry operations. On Thursday, I had the chance to visit and discuss recovery efforts with local growers, Jennie-O management, Minnesota Board of Animal Health officials, and local state legislators. We discussed recovery status, biosecurity improvements, vaccine development and usage, and lessons learned that could be applied to any future outbreaks. USDA and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health worked diligently to help affected poultry farmers and hopefully we are able to apply lessons learned to any future outbreaks. Repopulation is under way in the district and I’m happy to report about half of turkey operations hit by the avian flu have been repopulated.
Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association
On Monday, I met with members of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association to talk about a few issues that have come up in Washington recently. After a ruling by one judge in Washington, D.C., gray wolf management shifted from Minnesota back to the federal government. Minnesota has the largest population of gray wolves in the region and I believe that Minnesota is best equipped to manage this species in a way which balances the economic and safety needs in our state. I will continue to fight for ranchers and families whose livelihood can be threatened without a way to legally control problem wolves.
Army Corps of Engineers
Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers, United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), visited the region on September 2 to view the Fargo-Moorhead Metro project area and meet with project sponsors. I had the opportunity to visit with him about the work of the ACOE in the district. As the ACOE Commanding General, Bostick is responsible for more than 33,000 civilian employees and 700 military personnel who provide project management, construction support and engineering expertise in more than 130 countries around the world. Lieutenant General Bostick is also responsible for ACOE’s diverse missions such as hundreds of environmental protection projects; regulatory permit program to protect, restore and enhance thousands of acres of wetlands; and emergency response mission to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency in restoration and repair after a disaster, whether natural or manmade.
Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative
Kyle Petersen and Kelvin Thompsen (President & CEO, SoMN Beet Sugar Cooperative)
On Thursday, I met with the board of directors and management of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville. We discussed issues affecting federal sugar policy, such as the level of imported sugar from Mexico, efforts in Congress that threaten the sugar program, and Waters of the U.S (WOTUS). This year’s sugar crop promises to be a very good one.
Don Kellen, Brenna Bird, David Rettig (President, Rembrandt Foods), Rep. Tim Miller, Bob Carlson, Barry Sacket, and Duane Martin
Rembrandt Foods is a leading egg ingredient producer with global distribution. I met with their leadership team at Rembrandt’s Renville egg breaking facility on Thursday to get their views on impact of the Avian Influenza outbreak. While the outbreak poses special problems for the egg industry, Rembrandt is looking for a complete recovery and possible expansion. The Renville facility currently employs 120 people.
I joined Tom Weber from MPR studios in Saint Paul for an interview about the challenges facing the U.S. Congress. Click here for the full podcast download.
Red River Basin Commission Board
Red River of the North Watershed
My staff aide Allison Myhre attended the Red River Basin Commission Board meeting in Moorhead on Thursday where representatives from state and federal agencies in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Manitoba convened to discuss Red River Basin issues. The group gave updates from their agencies and elected officials, and discussed issues around water quality, watershed management, flooding, and aquatic invasive species.
Sauk Centre AARP
Gary & Betty Martin (LONG PRAIRIE), Dian and Andy Lopez (MORRIS), and Erin Parrish (Associate State Director, AARP Minnesota Advocacy and Outreach)
Last Friday, my staff aide Allison Myhre met with a group of AARP members in Sauk Centre. The group discussed issues related to the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act; the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act; and the Department of Labor Conflict of Interest rule proposal.
American Cancer Society
Robianne Schultz, Perham and Dorothy Roof, Fertile
On Monday, my staff aide Allison Myhre met with representatives from the American Cancer Society who delivered petitions from constituents in support of increasing cancer research funding. For more than 65 years, the American Cancer Society has worked to eliminate cancer as a major health problem and has engaged with elected and appointed officials to ensure that cancer remains a top local, state, and national priority.
Minnesota Council on Foundations
On Thursday, my staff aides Toni Merdan and Tom Meium met with members of the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) at the Willmar Area Community Foundations new office in Willmar. MCF is an advocate for non-profit organizations and a resource for grant making in Minnesota. I was able to provide a congressional update by telephone and then the audience members were able to provide my staff with input about federal issues important to them as non-profits.
Jobs for the Future
I joined several of my colleagues in a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez supporting a grant proposal from Minnesota non-profit Jobs for the Future that would help implement its Next Generation Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship program. Skill development in advanced manufacturing is critical to our nation’s competitiveness and the development of career pathways for our manufacturing workforce. We are eager to see this innovative apprenticeship program expanded in Minnesota.
Every Kid in a Park
Nationwide, fourth graders and their families can visit the new Every Kid in a Park website to receive a pass providing free access to all federally managed lands and waters. The pass, valid throughout the 2015-2016 school year, is designed to inspire the next generation to explore and protect the country’s unparalleled outdoors. Parents and educators can also use the website to access educational activities, field trip options, and family trip planners.
The Department of Transportation has allocated funds to improve the infrastructure of the Thief River Falls, Detroit Lakes, Todd Field, Moorhead, Hawley, Crookston, and Baudette airports. These funds will benefit the local economy and help the airports meet the region’s transportation needs.
Discovering the 7th
The Lake of the Woods Steam & Gas Engine Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and displaying the tools and equipment used during and before the early 20th Century. The annual “Threshing Bee” in Roosevelt is sponsored by the association, and features live demonstrations from steam train engines, tractors, and other farm equipment.
This Week in American History
Wendelin Grimm and wife, 1872/Grimm Farmstead (Victoria)
Wendelin Grimm, an experienced farmer from Germany, moved to Carver County on September 1, 1851. Grimm brought with him ewiger klee or “everlasting clover” seeds, the best producers from his German farmstead. One year after his arrival he successfully developed a winter-resistant strain of alfalfa that helped feed cows year-round. This advantage proved critical to the growth of the dairy industry in the upper Midwest.
Katie Jorschumb (DETROIT LAKES)
2015 Congressional Art Competition