Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/28/2018
This week, the House Committee on Agriculture met with representatives of the Administration’s foreign policy team to discuss the status of trade negotiations and the effect of the trade war on American agriculture. Committee members were able to ask questions about the Administration’s strategy on NAFTA and other free trade agreements, but many questions remain unanswered. I met with folks from Minnesota and national farm groups this week and heard how they will benefit from timely resolutions to federal issues with trade, the Renewable Fuel Standard and the Farm Bill. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to enact policies that support our producers, starting by reaching a compromise to enact a five-year Farm Bill.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Farm Bill Talks Continue in Washington
I gathered with Chairmen Conaway and Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow this week to make progress on the farm bill. While we’re not going to get a bill done before the Sunday deadline, we are going to push through and keep working to get a bill done. As our staffs remain in contact on all aspects of the farm bill, my counterparts and I will come back to Washington as needed to ensure that the process keeps progressing. As I have said, we are close and if we can come together on several big issues like commodity and conservation provisions and others, we can get this done.
Trade Discussion with Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud and USDA Under Secretary Ted McKinney
On Wednesday, Agriculture Committee members met in an informal roundtable setting with Gregg Doud, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Ted McKinney, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at USDA. My colleagues and I pressed them for details on the strategy behind the President’s imposition of tariffs and made sure they were aware how much farmers across the country are feeling the effects.
Chuck Lippstreu (Land O’Lakes, Arden Hills), Harley Buys (EDGERTON), Steve Sjostrom (Lafayette), Doug Heintz (Caledonia), Brad Vold (GLENWOOD), Rebekah Solem, Katie Zenk, Trey Forsyth (Land O’Lakes, Washington)
My staff aides Rebekah Solem and Katie Zenk met with a delegation from Land O’Lakes to talk about current issues facing the dairy industry. The group discussed the Administration’s Market Facilitation Program, NAFTA, and immigration. They also talked about the status of the farm bill and provisions of interest, including the dairy program and conservation programs such as EQIP.
National Corn Growers Association
On Tuesday, I met with Kevin Skunes of North Dakota, who’s serving as the president of the National Corn Growers Association. He offered his advice and positions on the farm bill conference negotiations. We agree that a compromise needs to be made as soon as possible to pass a farm bill. In fact, you can see our “Farm Bill Now” buttons in the photo. We also discussed the serious situation facing agriculture regarding trade, and how the loss of our foreign markets for a few crops will have a spillover effect across the entire rural economy.
Renewable Fuels Association
CEO of RFA Bob Dinneen
I met with Bob Dinneen on Thursday to talk about a bill I helped introduce, H.R. 6731, the Restoring Our Commitment to Renewable Fuels Act. The EPA has been undercutting the RFS, and it is hurting our farmers and renewable fuels producers. I have always stood by our rural communities and will continue to advocate on their behalf.
I met with Adam Griebe from McLeod County and Jim Nichols from Lincoln County who came to town on behalf of Ducks Unlimited. They were joined by Ducks Unlimited Washington and regional office staff. We discussed the status of the farm bill, including reauthorization of CRP and the Wetland Reserve Easement Program. There was agreement that we need to do a better job of maintaining the quality of our wetlands to allow them to address water quality needs and wildlife habitat.
Minnesota Rural Electric Association
I provided updates to the Minnesota Rural Electric Association, a group of electric cooperatives that provides affordable and reliable electricity to their rural Minnesota customers. We discussed the ongoing farm bill negotiations, ways to better provide high-speed internet to those who don’t have it, and the Rural Utilities Service.
Minnesota Association of School Administrators
This week, I met with representatives of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) to discuss a range of issues impacting greater Minnesota’s schools. We agree that Congress should help relieve administrative burdens, provide reliable broadband services, and improve security in rural schools. I also look forward to collaborating with MASA as we work to address teacher shortages in the Seventh District.
Minnesota School Trust Lands Project
Commissioner Tom Landwehr and Frank Jewell
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr and St. Louis County Commissioner Frank Jewell visited my office to provide updates on the Grygla Trail project and the Minnesota School Trust land swap that is underway. When completed, the land swap will provide a funding boost to the Minnesota school system and secure conservation measures within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
Members of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) visited my office this week to discuss funding for Federal Impact Aid, which provides payment in lieu of taxes to local school districts for lost revenue resulting from tax-exempt federal property. I recently agreed to co-sponsor H.R. 6830, the Impact Aid Infrastructure Act, to authorizes additional funding to help repair tribal schools across the 7th District and the rest of the country.
Minnesota Credit Union Network
Representatives of the MN Credit Union Network came to Washington to discuss the state of Credit Unions in Minnesota and recent legislation passed to address regulatory hurdles in the financial services industry. I support the efforts provided by Credit Unions in rural America, as they have grown to become one of the biggest avenues for lending in western Minnesota. I will continue to work to provide the liquidity needed in rural lending markets, so businesses can continue to thrive.
NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award
I was honored to accept the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Guardian of Small Business award this week. The award highlights my consistent support of small business through my voting record and work this Congress. I will continue to work to ensure main street has the tools needed for a thriving economy. Thank you to Juanita Duggan and everyone at NFIB for working hard to represent the interests of small businesses.
American Cotton Shippers Association
Folks from the American Cotton Shippers Association came by my House Agriculture Committee office on Wednesday. We talked about the challenges the cotton industry is enduring, largely due to the Administration’s trade dispute with China. Even though there isn’t any cotton being grown or shipped out of Minnesota, I think it’s very important to make sure that farm and trade policy works well for the whole country.
Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention
My staff aides Kellie Adesina and Rebekah Solem met with representatives from the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention on Monday. They talked about issues surrounding antibiotic resistance, including research and monitoring of antibiotics used to treat animals. They also brought up concerns about the proposed USDA reorganization, particularly the proposal to move the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) out of the Washington area.
American Cancer Society
Minnesotan members of the American Cancer Society visited my office to thank me for supporting cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I appreciate the group’s efforts to ensure that cancer research, prevention, and awareness remain a top local, state, and national priority.
Holly Ridge Opening in Starbuck
On Thursday, my staff aide Jacki Anderson attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Minnewaska Community Health Services (MCHS) Holly Ridge in Starbuck. Holly Ridge is a beautifully renovated and expanded assisted living campus. I congratulate MCHS and the community on this great project and investment in their future. I am pleased that they were able to work with USDA to accomplish this project. I know how important these funding sources are to our district and will continue to support and advocate for them so that essential services like those at Holy Ridge can continue.
Ag and Animal Science Conference
On Tuesday, my staff aide Jacki Anderson attended the Ag and Animal Science Conference in Willmar. The conference brought together many of the region’s top agriculture and animal science stakeholders to discuss some of the industry’s most pressing issues. Industry influencers talked about their ability to rally together and help other stakeholders relay a positive message about the future and impact of agriculture to consumers, policy makers, and the next generation of industry leaders.
Courageous Conversations: Minnesota’s Aging Workforce
The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota started a series of six conversations to be held around Minnesota. This week’s conversation asked how attracting retiring seniors back into the workforce may soften the worker shortage in Minnesota. Gary Eichten, a well-known Minnesota Public Radio commentator, moderated the meeting. Mr. Eichten mentioned that there are currently two job openings for every unemployed worker and in four years there will be about 250,000 job openings in Minnesota. These meetings started the discussion on what changes could to draw some of our most talented retirees back to work.
“Me and the Bee” at the National Zoo
A new pollinator-themed playground, sponsored by Land O’Lakes, has opened at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The play space covers 4,900 square feet with rubberized honeycomb steps, honey slides and hollow trees that replicate the place where bees make their homes. Signage and activities around the park educate guests about the role pollinators play in the ecosystem and offer tips for creating a more bee-friendly environment.
You can learn more about Land O’ Lakes’ gift to the National Zoo here.
RSVP Competition Notice of Funding Opportunity
This week, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) released the 2019 RSVP Competition Notice of Funding Opportunity. For decades, RSVP has effectively engaged older Americans in meeting national and community needs that deliver lasting, meaningful results. With this Notice, CNCS intends to fund successful applicants that increase the impact of volunteers age 55 and older.
Funding is available for volunteers in the seventh district counties of Becker, Clearwater, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, Todd, and Wilkin. For more information about the application process and RSVP, visit the CNCS website.
This Week in American History
Edward A. Bromley
On September 9, 1848, Photographer Edward A. Bromley is born in New Haven, Connecticut. Considered the first regular newspaper staff photographer in the United States, Bromley would be connected with the Minneapolis Journal and the Minneapolis Times and would emphasize the importance of photographs in illustrating news stories and chronicling historic events. He died in 1925.
What’s the Story?
Founded in 1943 by C. Wilson Harder, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has since expanded from its origin in San Mateo, California to become a national organization with divisions in all 50 state capitols and Washington, D.C. NFIB strives to give small and independent businesses a voice in policy making through its advocacy at all levels of government. Since its beginning, NFIB has set its agenda through a one-member one-vote balloting process of its membership, roughly 90% of members being businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Recently, the organization has advocated for small business-friendly policies on tax reform, labor, healthcare, regulatory reform and economic growth. I display the NFIB Guardian of Small Business awards shown above in my Washington, D.C. office.