Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/21/2018
Bemidji in 1939 – Beltrami County
This week, I spoke with veterans at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home and presented Vietnam War veterans with commemorative pins as part of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration. On Wednesday, I gave members of the Minnesota Society of CPAs an update on federal issues related to farm tax policy. I received a tour of the Simply Shrimp facility from its owner, Paul Damhof, on Thursday. Built on the site of what was once the family dairy, Simply Shrimp in Blomkest now produces thousands of saltwater shrimp indoors. I look forward to continuing work on the farm bill in Washington next week. Federal farm programs expire September 30th. Farm bill conferees must come ready to seek compromise so that Congress can enact a farm bill that reauthorizes vital programs for American producers.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Fergus Falls Veterans Home
On Wednesday, I stopped by the Fergus Falls Veterans Home to visit with residents and their families. I also had the opportunity to present pins to Vietnam Veterans and their surviving spouses as part of the Department of Defense 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War. The Fergus Falls Veterans Home is a wonderful facility that I was honored to help open in 1998 after years of work with former Fergus Falls Mayor Kelly Ferber and countless others. I am also working to help Bemidji and Montevideo in their efforts to build veterans homes in their respective communities. Both communities have been working hard to raise money and secure state bonding dollars to bring their visions to reality.
The Fergus Falls Daily Journal wrote a story about my visit that you can read here.
Minnesota Society of CPAs
This week, I had the opportunity to address members of the Minnesota Society of CPAs. I spoke to the group about tax policy, the farm bill, commodity prices, and the Administration's response to tariffs that continue to hurt our farmers. As a career CPA myself, I enjoy working with these men and women who know the ins and outs of U.S. tax policy so we can work to create a better tax system for Americans.
Public/Private Partnership for Education in Willmar
On Thursday, I had lunch with a group of CEOs involved in a public/private partnership between the Willmar Public Schools and companies who want to provide hands-on learning opportunities for area students. Students who take a manufacturing and production course and who have an interest in the trades have an opportunity to spend an hour of their school day learning about the businesses and working on projects designed to help guide them towards developing in interest in industries where workers are needed. After lunch, we toured the Marcus Construction site where we got to visit with students and see first-hand what they’re learning. I applaud these companies who are coming up with innovative ways to keep our students in the area and provide great jobs to those interested in the trades.
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting with Paul Damhof who owns Simply Shrimp in Blomkest. Paul has converted what was once his family’s dairy into the site of his new shrimp farm. Today, Simply Shrimp is raising thousands of pacific white shrimp in what was once a calving barn. I look forward to hearing more about their experience in shrimp farming and their effort to produce salt water shrimp in western Minnesota.
Talking Farm Bill with Mike Adams
I spoke this morning with Mike Adams from Adams on Agriculture to give an update of where we are in the farm bill process. As I told Mike, I’m encouraged by what I see from the ongoing negotiations, and I believe we are close to getting a deal done that gives farmers, consumers and rural communities what they need. My staff and I continue to meet with our counterparts in the House Majority and over on the Senate side, and I think if we can move a little bit more toward a bipartisan compromise, we can get this thing done.
The audio of my conversation on today’s Adams on Agriculture is available here.
Farmers Market Coalition
Ben Feldman and Ruth White
My staff aide Rebekah Solem met with representatives of the Farmers Market Coalition, including Ruth White who is active with farmers markets in Minnesota as well as Ben Feldman who is the national policy director. They expressed strong support for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Agriculture Market Program. The group also talked about an FMPP grant awarded in Renville County a few years back and the impact that it had on local marketing efforts and consumer education.
Red Bull Infantry Deployment Ceremony
On Thursday, Meg Louwagie of my staff attended the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Deployment Departure Ceremony and assisted with Serving Our Troops St Paul to Kuwait. More than 650 members of the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Headquarters including 30 soldiers from the seventh district will begin a ten-month long deployment to the Middle East this month. After a month of pre-mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, the 34th will deploy to Kuwait to provide leadership, command, and planning for future exercises for Operation Spartan Shield. The Red Bulls will be responsible for operations across 10 expected countries. After the deployment ceremony, over 9000 steaks were served to servicemembers and their families by Serving Our Troops. I commend these men and women for their service and dedication to this country, and I have no doubt their strength and expertise will be felt throughout the region.
Minnesota Transportation Alliance
I had the pleasure of speaking at Willmar’s Community Forum on Transportation Issues hosted by the Minnesota Transportation Alliance on Thursday. Forums like this provide valuable insight on transportation concerns and help identify the most pressing projects. Keeping me and my staff informed of these projects goes a long way in helping to find the funding and program opportunities that are needed to make our communities safer and run more efficiently. Efforts to support volunteer drivers and transit needs are a high priority which is why I have co-sponsored Representative Nolan’s legislation to equalize the rate for volunteers with the regular IRS business rate. Together we can continue to make progress on these important transportation and transit issues.
Universal Service Fund
This week, I joined several of my Minnesotan colleagues in asking the FCC to address persistent budget shortfalls in the High-Cost Universal Service Fund (USF). Funding for the High-Cost USF, which helps develop rural broadband and voice services, has remained stagnant since 2011. Because more than 80% of Minnesota’s land mass is served by rural carriers, it is critical that we strengthen the High-Cost USF to fill the digital divide and support communities across the 7th District.
Germany/Minnesota Energy Exchange
(Bottom) An intern holds an infrared image that shows the heat lost by a home in Warren
The seventh district has paired two cities, Warren and Morris, with two German cities to share ideas for increasing energy efficiency. For example, our German partners used specialized drones to track heat loss by homes in Warren. The infrared drone camera can show the exact location where homes are losing the heat, allowing homeowners to address the leak and save on heating costs.
On Wednesday, Dr. Sabine Engel, Director of the International Partnerships Program at the University of Minnesota led a renewable energy discussion entitled “Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way”. The discussion focused on practices to increase energy efficiency in homes, communities, and nations. More information about Minnesota’s renewable energy programs can be found in the short film Happening, produced by James Redford.
Saint Cloud VA Joins Yellow Ribbon Company Network
The Saint Cloud VA is the first federal entity in Minnesota to become part of the network of Yellow Ribbon Companies. Sponsored by the State of Minnesota, the Yellow Ribbon Company network is comprised of broad, organizationally structured companies with national, regional or statewide influence that unite to coordinate resources, education, outreach and support to meet the needs of servicemembers, veterans, and military families. Joining the Yellow Ribbon Company network is no easy task, I applaud the efforts of those at the Saint Cloud VA to receive this designation and join with other Yellow Ribbon Companies to support our veterans.
National Farm Safety and Health Week
This week was National Farm Safety and Health Week. The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, UMASH, and the US Agricultural Center drew attention to safety and health hazards in agriculture using daily themes such as: rural road safety, suicide/opioid use, youth health and safety, confined spaces in agriculture and tractor safety. Free webinar sessions were offered each day to cover each theme in greater detail.
Click here to find farm safety resources and links to the webinars that were offered throughout National Farm Safety and Health Week.
This Week in American History
Charles M. Lockwood
On September 17, 1885, Civil War veterans of Company B of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment formed the Last Man's Club. The club met annually at the Sawyer House in Stillwater. The group preserved a bottle of wine to be opened by the last survivor, who would be Charles M. Lockwood, the sole attendee of the 1930 banquet. Lockwood passed away in October of 1935 at the age of 93.
What’s the Story?
Ethanol is a renewable source of fuel produced from corn. It can be burned alone as fuel; however, it is often blended with gasoline to reduce carbon emissions and the total amount of foreign oil required to fuel Americans’ vehicles. I have supported the production of ethanol since 1975, when it was referred to as gasohol. Ethanol production capacity has come a long way since then. Now, the biofuels industry can produce and blend more than 15 billion gallons annually. I am happy to advocate in Congress on behalf of the farmers, ethanol producers and consumers that benefit from a healthy biofuels industry. This “Fueling Growth Award” plaque from Growth Energy is displayed in my Washington, D.C. office.
“Bird’s Eye View”