Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/18/2015

Thief River Falls

Dear Friends,

Sugar is an essential industry in the United States. Minnesota’s sugarbeet growers and processors support 28,000 jobs and generate $3.4 billion in annual revenue. This week, I testified in support of the U.S. sugar industry at an International Trade Commission hearing to protect American producers from unfair imports. I was also honored to receive the “Fueling Growth Award” for my support of the ethanol industry and the “Golden Triangle Award” for my dedication to family farmers and ranchers. Finally, I welcomed members of the Minnesota Farm Bureau to Washington and had the opportunity to congratulate Minnesota’s “Principals of the Year.”


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Minnesota Farmers Union

On Thursday, I met with a group of Minnesota Farmers Union members who were in town for the National Farmer’s Union’s Annual Legislative Fly-In. I was honored to receive the national organization’s 2015 Golden Triangle Award, which is presented to Members of Congress who have shown leadership in advocating for family farmers and ranchers. We talked about a number of issues, including Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), GMO labeling, the Renewable Fuel Standard, and trade. 

Doug Peterson (President, Minnesota Farmers Union), Amanda Tommerdahl (HENDRUM), and Brandi Lee (HALSTAD)

Two Norman County FFA members, Amanda Tommerdahl and Brandi Lee, attended the Minnesota Farmers Union meeting as well. It’s always great to see young people who are involved in and excited about agriculture.

Fueling Growth

Tom Buis and Mick Miller (MORRIS)

For the fifth year in a row, it was an honor to receive the Fueling Growth Award from Growth Energy for my strong support of the ethanol industry. As the EPA looks to finalize volume requirements for various renewable fuel sources, it is more important than ever to stand with our agriculture communities as they continue to put our country on a path towards energy independence.

Minnesota Farm Bureau

Paul and Ruth Lanoue (MARSHALL), Brad and Susan Hennen (GHENT), Doug, TaLana, Olivia, and Treston Mathiowetz (MORGAN)

On Wednesday, I spoke to a group of Minnesota Farm Bureau members who were visiting Washington, most of whom were young farmers and ranchers.  We talked about the status of several important issues that affect agriculture, including EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, Country of Origin Labeling, and Minnesota’s state buffer initiative.  One of the questions that the group had for me was how they could best communicate to Member offices that don’t have a strong background in agriculture.  This is one of the biggest challenges that I face in Congress, and so I think it’s important that folks try to educate Members about what they do and the importance of agriculture for all Americans.

Minnesota Principals of the Year

Chad Duwenhoegger and Chuck Ochocki

This week, I was fortunate to spend some time with Alexandria Area High School principal Chad Duwenhoegger and South Saint Paul principal Chuck Ochocki. Both were decorated this year as “Minnesota Principals of the Year” by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals. Chad was selected as the High School Principal of the year, and Chuck as the Middle Level principal of the year. I have spent time in the past with Chad at Alexandria Area High School, where we joked that I often brag about the fine work they have been doing there. We are lucky to have such dedicated professionals teaching and guiding our children through their education.

Minnesota Pork Producers

A group of Minnesota pork producers met with me this week to discuss issues impacting the pork industry, including childhood nutrition, country of origin labeling, mandatory price reporting, and the Waters of the U.S. rule. The House passed mandatory price reporting last month, and the bill was marked up in the Senate on Thursday. I have been and will continue to work to make sure the requests from the pork industry were included in that language.  

International Trade Commission: Sugar Hearing

On Wednesday, I testified in support of the U.S. sugar program at an International Trade Commission hearing to review the Mexican sugar case. American sugarbeet growers and processors are among the most competitive producers in the world, but they cannot compete with the huge surplus of subsidized and dumped Mexican sugar that flooded the U.S. market in recent years. American sugar growers, processors and their communities deserve a fair and level playing field.

Rembrandt Foods

This week, I met with representatives from Rembrandt Foods, an egg-laying facility, to discuss how they were impacted by Avian Influenza. They shared how USDA calculates the indemnification for producers that are impacted and what lessons were learned from the outbreak. USDA will release a fall planning report shortly that will discuss in detail how they will deal with another outbreak. I am closely monitoring all aspects of Avian Flu and remain in close contact with USDA officials to make sure they are responsive to growers’ needs.

Willmar Rail Connection Project

Gael Sullivan (BNSF), French Thompson, III (BNSF), Bruce Peterson (Director, Planning & Development Services for the City of Willmar), Mel Odens (Public Works Director, Kandiyohi County), Jim Butterfield (Kandiyohi County Commissioner), Paul Christina (BNSF)

My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with constituents representing the City of Willmar and Kandiyohi County, as well as representatives from BNSF Railway, to talk about the group’s partnership on a TIGER grant application for the Willmar Rail Connector & Industrial Access Project.  This project is a major public-private partnership, and the group emphasized that the completion of this undertaking will greatly improve the safety, economic sustainability, livability and environmental conditions of Willmar.  I have been supportive of this project and hope to see it move forward.

School Administrators

This week, my staff aide Richard Lee met with Austin Public Schools Superintendent David Krenz and Todd Travis, Director of Special Education of the Midwest Special Education Cooperative. Among the issues discussed were school funding, the federal government’s involvement in local educational policies, and the unrealistic burdens the government can place on our administrators. I commend these two for doing everything in their power to both navigate the red tape involved in being an educator and provide the best educational atmosphere possible.


This week, my staff aide Adam Durand met with Dominos about concerns they have with a new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation that requires businesses to post detailed information about the nutritional value of food at restaurants. This is difficult for restaurants like Dominos that can make thousands of combinations of orders. Consumers today are looking for more information about the nutritional value of their food, and we should try to make this process easier and less costly by using new technology. There are 11 Dominos locations in the 7th District.

Minnesota River Watershed

On Monday, my staff aide Allison Myhre participated in a barge tour of the Minnesota River sponsored by the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District and the Freshwater Society. The tour focused on the impact of sediment on navigation and recreation in the Minnesota River Valley, and there was discussion about creating a basin management structure for the river, similar to the Red River Basin Commission.

Bemidji Forestry

Allison Ahcan (Grand Rapids Forestry Affairs), Jim Gubbels (Bemidji Forestry Affairs Council), Tina Smith (Lieutenant Governor), and John Persell (Representative, District 05A)

On Friday, my staff aide Toni Merdan attended the joint board meeting of the Bemidji Forestry Affairs Council and the Grand Rapids Forestry Affairs Committee at the Sanford Center. Businesses, community leaders, and state and federal agencies also attended to discuss and stay informed about issues and policies relevant to forests in northern Minnesota.   

Legislative Update

Agriculture Committee Reviews USDA

The Agriculture Committee held a two day hearing Sept. 15-16 to review USDA organization and program administration. The Committee heard from six different witness panels, including most of the Department’s Under Secretaries. Having an open dialogue with the Department is important to ensure that USDA is operating in the best interests of our constituents and implementing programs as Congress intended. This hearing was an opportunity to get a progress update on changes called for by the 2014 Farm Bill and look at some of the challenges and opportunities in agriculture today.


Lewis & Clark Water Project

In a letter to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees and the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees, I joined my colleagues in calling for continued federal support for the Lewis & Clark Water Project. When completed, the project will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles and provide drinking water to 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa, and southeast South Dakota.

Discovering the 7th

Stephen’s Old Home Town Museum is the converted former residence of Cutsy and Francis Swanson, the former editors and publishers of the Stephen Messenger. In addition to an authentic collection of antique furniture and farm equipment, the museum offers visitors the opportunity to ride in a replica of the stagecoach that the family used to travel between Stephen and Roseau.

This Week in American History

National Archives: Washington, D.C.

The United States Constitution was signed by 38 of 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. The Convention, which opened the previous May, was called to revise the Articles of Confederation. After signing, the document was sent to the states for ratification and was ultimately implemented in 1789. This signature approval of the Constitution, which established the framework for our government, is celebrated annually as Constitution Day.

Visitors from the District

Loren and Sharon Koll (LONG PRAIRIE), Louis and Darlene Jacobson (SAUK CENTRE), Bob and Elaine Hanson (WILLMAR), Loewll and Linda Heydt (Lake Crystal)

Victoria Clawson (PAYNESVILLE)
2015 Congressional Art Competition