This Monday we have the opportunity to honor, as a nation, the sacrifices made by those who gave their lives to safeguard us and our way of life. The debt owed to them is immeasurable. These soldiers and their families are freedom's foundation.
I would like to thank all of you who attended the farm bill meetings I hosted in Minnesota this week. If you were unable to attend, the newsletter below will provide some highlights. This week's newsletter also includes a visit from Darrin Swanson (Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year) and an update from the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Action Summit. Finally, I am happy to announce the continued operation of a trade office critical to local Minnesota exporters.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
A Grateful Nation
Each year on Memorial Day, Americans come together to remember those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our country in the name of freedom and democracy. Without the brave efforts of all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and their families, our country would not live so freely.
On this Memorial Day, we remember the patriotic sacrifices of those who have served in all conflicts past and present. We continue to have troops deployed in Afghanistan, while our soldiers in Iraq have returned home. For over a decade this country has been at war. In the pursuit of those who wish to harm us, many have paid the ultimate price by giving their lives to preserve the freedoms we all cherish. We also honor the memory of those troops who gave their lives in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf as well as other overseas conflicts. It is to the fallen and their loved ones that I wish to extend my deepest heartfelt gratitude.
Let us thank our troops, veterans, members of the National Guard and Reserve, and their families not just on Memorial Day but every day.
The Civil War: Honoring Fallen Minnesotans
Memorial Day's roots were formed following the American Civil War. Known then as "Decoration Day", the holiday has evolved to recognize all American soldiers who have died in war.
Above: The First Minnesota by Don Troiani. Below: Minnesota Civil War veterans at Gettysburg. 1897. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.
Our state has its own rich history in the Civil War. Minnesota had one of the highest per capita rates of men fighting in the war, despite having only become a state three years before the conflict began. In 1861, more than 4,000 Minnesotans left Fort Snelling to serve as Union Soldiers in the Civil War. The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry was especially noted for its courageous service and heavy casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg. The painting above (left) depicts these brave soldiers.
According to the Minnesota Military Museum, throughout the war, over 22,000 Minnesotans served in 23 different volunteer military organizations from 1861 and 1866. Our state lost more than 600 soldiers who died in action and nearly 2,000 soldiers who died of disease and accident.
On Memorial Day this year, the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force will honor 150 fallen Civil War soldiers by placing special flags at each of their graves. The effort will continue as the Task Force aims to one day recognize and honor all of Minnesota's buried Civil War veterans throughout the state. The Task Force will hold a rededication ceremony on Monday for the grave of a Minnesota-born Civil War veteran at Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul.
Farm Bill Meetings
In the meetings I held with farmers throughout Minnesota this past week, I received a lot of valuable feedback.
I'm optimistic that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will continue their bipartisan work so we can get a farm bill done in the coming months.
This week I held a number of farm bill meetings in the Seventh District to give local farmers the opportunity to speak out and discuss farm bill reauthorization. The full Senate will likely vote on their version of the farm bill in early June. The House Agriculture Committee is on track to mark up our farm bill in mid-June, which will then be followed by floor debate.
There will be differences between the House and Senate bills, most notably in the commodity and nutrition titles. But I think these are issues that we will be able to work out and I'm pretty optimistic that we will be able to finish the farm bill before the current bill expires.
Some local press coverage of the farm bill meetings:
Crookston Times: Peterson: House, Senate differ on farm bill
WDAZ: Rep. Collin Peterson Outlines Likely Cuts to Farm Bill
Fergus Falls Journal: Peterson: Farm bill should help farmers
Small Business Week
5/22: Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year Darrin Swanson (Perham) and his mother Trudy Swanson visit my office in Washington. Darrin was also named runner up for National Small Business Person of the Year.
Small businesses play a vital role in the strength of our economy and the vitality of the American Dream. We honor the hard work of these entrepreneurs through National Small Business Week.
Darrin Swanson, owner of Kit Masters, Inc. and Swan Machine, Inc., was named the Minnesota Small Business Person of the year. Darrin and his father, Keith, founded his two companies, and Darrin is currently CEO and chairman of each board of directors. The companies specialize in manufacturing and servicing clutches for heavy-duty vehicles for the American aftermarket. The two men describe their founding principles as valuing quality over speed or cost and giving back to the community. Mr. Swanson was also runner up for National Small Business Person of the Year. I was honored that Darrin and Trudy stopped by the office in Washington DC to say hello.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems Action Summit
I attended the sixth Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Action Summit May 22-23 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The conference theme -- "From Battle Field to Farm Field" -- examined measures that the nation and the UAS industry prepared for to meet the use and growth of UAS within the national airspace in both defense and commercial applications. The focus of the conference was how unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are used for both peaceful and military purposes. Local press coverage of the UAS Summit: Grand Forks Herald: UAS summit features history, future of unmanned aircraft.
Critical Trade Office Will Stay Open to Assist Local Minnesota Exporters
I recently joined our Minnesota Senators in writing a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Kenneth Fairfax, urging him to help prevent the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service Office in the country from closing. I also arranged a meeting with Ambassador Fairfax to advocate for the continued operation of this trade office. Many local Minnesota businesses that export their products to the country rely on this office.
This week, we are happy to announce that this critical trade office slated for closure will stay open and continue assisting Minnesota businesses exporting their products abroad. I think it's great news that the Commercial Service will keep this office open in Kazakhstan to help ensure that businesses like Mattracks in Karlstad will be able to continue their growth in overseas markets.