Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/5/2014

Wheat on the Hill

Dear Friends,

Having dependable rail service to transport crops to market and protect our local economies is crucial, even more so now that we’re beginning harvest season. For this reason, I testified before the Surface Transportation Board this week during a Fargo field hearing on rail service delays. Also in Fargo, I visited the Red River Basin Commission Board meeting to discuss land and water management issues. Finally, I spent some time in Willmar and visited the Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare Clinic, Willmar Industrial Park, and the Willmar Chamber of Commerce. This newsletter also includes an important update regarding the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Testifying at the STB Rail Hearing

Addressing the Surface Transportation Board

On Thursday, I testified before the Surface Transportation Board at a Fargo field hearing to bring attention to ongoing rail service issues in the region. This spring, I joined Reps. Walz and Nolan in a letter to the STB urging the board to address our concerns about the impact service delays are having on the agriculture industry. Crops need to get to market, and congestion hurts our local economy. I've heard from a number of folks in the 7th who feel powerless in this situation, from farmers to elevator operators and ethanol plants and while there has been some improvement, these delays remain a serious problem. Click here for the full text of my testimony before the Board, and here for additional news coverage from Valley News Live in Fargo.

Red River Basin Commission Board

Top Row: John Linc Stine (MPCA Commissioner), Keith Weston (USDA, NRCS), Madeline Lukes (City Council, Valley City), Morrie Lanning (Consultant), Jim Ziegler (MPCA)
Bottom Row: Jeff Lewis (RRBC), Mike Ell (ND DOH), Roger Smith (Ducks Unlimited), Ryan Froehling (USFWS), Daniel Weber (USDA, NRCS)
Photo Credit: Leah Thvedt (Conference Coordinator & Outreach Specialist, RRBC)

On Thursday I visited the Red River Basin Commission Board in Fargo. I discussed working lands and the Farm Bill’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program with the group. Also at the meeting, Keith Weston from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided an update on the Natural Resources Framework Plan.

The Commission’s mission is to develop a Red River Basin integrated water resources framework plan and achieve commitment to implement the plan. As part of the planning process, nine inventory work teams were assigned to assess the current status of the basin's land and water management problems, issues, and  opportunities in the following areas: Water Law; Water Institutions; Hydrology; Water Supply; Water Quality; Drainage; Water Supply; Flood Damage Reduction; Conservation; Fish, Wildlife, and Outdoor  Recreation. 

Builders Association of Minnesota

State Rep. Tama Theis, Mike Gohman, Dale Gruber (Central Minnesota Builders Association), Remi Stone (Builders Association of Minnesota), Chad Kompelien (West Central Builders Association, WILLMAR), Jane DeAustin (Central Minnesota Builders Association)

I met with members of the Builders Association of Minnesota, a trade association of over 3,000, to address the lack of skilled trade-labor in the residential construction industry. It is increasingly important to make apprenticeship opportunities available to rural communities, including students looking for summer employment. We also discussed the healthcare dynamic of employees moving from company plans to individualized plans, as well as the Clean Water Act and the status of the Fargo- Moorhead-Red River Flood Diversion Project.

Willmar Industrial Park

Bob Dols (Owner, Northern States Supply), Northern States Supply employees, Business owners and executives (WILLMAR Industrial Park), Dan Cole (Vice-President of Operations, Jennie-O Turkey Store)

When Willmar’s new airport opened in 2006, plans were made to re-use the former site for industrial expansion. As a result, a new 90 acre city-driven expansion of its industrial park was developed from the former airport site. Bob Dols, Owner of Northern States Supply, invited me to visit with owners and employees of business firms in the Willmar Industrial Park on Friday. We talked about the importance of improved rail and highway transportation to help local business expand, as well as ways to fix the healthcare system.

Willmar Chamber

Wes Hompe (General Manager, Willmar Municipal Utilities)

I joined the Willmar Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Committee to deliberate about a wide range of issues including tax, immigration, and transportation policies to help rural economies grow. We discussed the importance of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, as it sustains jobs in the 7th. In the current employment landscape, it is crucial to match training with business needs, and I commended Ridgewater and Central Lakes Colleges for their Precision Agriculture Programs which match business needs with appropriate student training.  

Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Clinic

Marnie Falk (Government Relations), Kristian Thonvid (Facilities Supervisor), B.J. Fisher (Senior Supervisor, ATD-Othotics/Prosthetics/Outreach)

Established in coordination with the University of Minnesota in 1897, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is the nation’s first hospital for children with disabilities. In 2008, Gillette established a permanent clinic in Willmar that serves outreach sites at Roseau, Crookston, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Alexandria, and Marshall. Last year Gillette served 1,764 patients in the 7th District. I had the chance to thank Gillette for their service to the community, and tour their new facility which is currently under renovation.   

National Agricultural Genotyping Center

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has chosen Fargo to be the site of the new Agricultural Genotyping Center, which aims to expand and apply scientific research to improve production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy, and national security. I advocated for the Center’s location at the USDA-ARS Bioscience Research Laboratory on the North Dakota State University campus because of the benefits it will provide to the state and local agricultural communities.

Farm Storage Facility Loan Program

The FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan Program, designed to help small and mid-sized producers by providing low-interest financing, has expanded to allow the cost of upgrading or adding propane or LP tanks as part of a grain bin storage loan. This expansion, which is broadly supported by producers from the 7th, will make it easier for farmers and ranchers to finance equipment needed to grow and develop. More information on the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program is available here.

National Preparedness Month

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with Citizen Corps, encourages individuals, businesses, and organizations to “be disaster aware and take action to prepare” this September as we recognize National Preparedness Month. In the event of an emergency, FEMA recommends developing family communication plans, organizing emergency supply kits, assessing the community’s risks, and advising others to do the same. Additional information regarding National Preparedness Month is available here.

County Courthouse Tour

Marshall County Courthouse 1926 rendering/Present

In spring 1882, Marshall County officials decided to provide $5,000 to build and furnish a courthouse in Warren. The original courthouse lot, consisting of a one-room frame courthouse built in 1880, was moved to the rear of the lot and converted into a jail. By 1900, the two-story yellow brick courthouse was completed, but was soon discovered to be too small. A second, matching building was constructed in front of the first, with a hallway and stairwell connecting the structures and giving the complex an H-shape.

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 in the growth of the dairy industry in the upper Midwest, and also attracted the attention of Professor Willet Hays at the University of Minnesota, who helped bring Grimm’s alfalfa to the public. Although no longer widely used, Grimm’s alfalfa is estimated to be the basis for hay, the third largest crop in the United States.

Visitors from the 7th

Newzad, Peyvin, Lorin, and Sheelan Brifki (MOORHEAD)

Kaylee Christenson (CLARA CITY)
2014 Congressional Art Competition