On National Ag Day, we recognized agricultural humanitarian Dr. Norman E. Borlaug and dedicated a statue in his honor that is now placed in the U.S. Capitol. I met with a number of folks this week who do great work in Minnesota, including supporting our veterans, producing our nation's food supply, career development programs, addressing global hunger, innovating medical treatment, and improving our communities for the future for our children. I also shook the hand of a fellow Minnesotan who has spent over 180 days in outer space so far in her career as an astronaut.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
MN Astronaut Visits D.C.
On Tuesday, I met with Astronauts Karen Nyberg (VINING) and Luca Parmitano of Italy to discuss their recent mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Expedition 36/37. Expedition 36/37 began May 28 and ended on Nov. 10, 2013.
Dr. Nyberg holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Dakota and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She was selected as a mission specialist by NASA in July 2000, and reported for astronaut training in August 2000. Dr. Nyberg has since served in the Space Shuttle branch, the Exploration branch, and as Chief of the Robotics branch. A veteran of two spaceflights, Dr. Nyberg served as a Mission Specialist on STS-124 and a Flight Engineer for Expedition 36/37. She has accumulated 180 days in space over the course of the two missions.
I had a good discussion with the folks from the American Legion about the state of the VA and national security. We also discussed the importance of making sure our country protects and assists those who have served it with honor by keeping a well-funded military, opposing further increases to TRICARE, ensuring that Congress pass the full advance appropriations legislation for all VA programs, benefits and services, so we can shield the VA from Washington's annual budget battles.
Boys and Girls Club
I met with Mark Sakry, Executive Director, with Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota. We discussed the eleven Boys and Girls Clubs within the Seventh District serving more than 5,000 youths and employing 78 people with the support of 213 volunteers. The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota is to help boys and girls of all backgrounds, especially those who need us most, build confidence, develop character and acquire the skills needed to become productive, civic-minded, responsible adults. Every young person should have access to a safe place to go after school.
On Thursday, I spent time with folks from many of the Community Action organizations in the 7th District, including Lakes and Prairies Community Action and West Central Community Action, among others. Groups like these are the backbone of our communities, assisting with everything from education and after school care programs, facilitating HeadStart, and aiding in affordable housing programs. After his many years of hard work and success, I was pleased to award Joe Pederson (Lakes and Prairies CAP) a certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in appreciation of his sacrifices to our communities. I appreciate all the work put in to make our communities better places.
Champion of Healthcare Innovations Award
Mary R. Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), honored me with their Champion of Healthcare Innovations award. HLC is a coalition of chief executives from all disciplines within American healthcare. They bring together the nation's healthcare leaders to jointly develop policies, plans, and programs to achieve their vision of a 21st century system that makes affordable, high-quality care accessible to all Americans. The Champion of Healthcare Innovations award is awarded to Members of Congress who have demonstrated on-going commitment to increasing the cost-effectiveness of American healthcare by emphasizing wellness and prevention, care coordination, and the use of evidence-based medicine, while utilizing consumer choice and competition.
At the Healthcare Leadership Council's Healthcare Innovations 2014 Expo, I met with Melissa Schooley and her associate with Medtronic Corporation. Medtronic is the world's largest medical technology company with locations in 140 countries and its world headquarters in Minneapolis. Medtronic was displaying the MiniMed 530G system, a breakthrough technology toward developing an artificial pancreas system for people with diabetes. The system demonstrated on the lion in the photograph featured an insulin pump with integrated Continuous Glucose Monitoring which will automatically intervene when programmed glucose levels become too low. It is really a major step forward in the treatment of diabetes.
Close Up Students
I met with students from Osakis High School and Norman County West High who were visiting Washington D.C. as part of the Close Up Foundation, which brings students from across the country to partake in congressional seminars, meet lawmakers, and discuss the political climate and current events facing our country. It was a pleasure having a dialogue with these young folks and learning about their upcoming plans following graduation. We had a long conversation about the Farm Bill and its implementation and other policies facing our nation. It is always good to meet with students from the Seventh District and seeing the future leaders of Minnesota.
National Ag Week
This week we celebrated National Ag Week and National Ag Day (March 25). This was an opportunity to recognize and celebrate all that America's farmers and ranchers do for our country. Not only do farmers produce the safest, most abundant and most affordable food in the world, they also have the capability to produce renewable fuels from the farm. Today, with most Americans far-removed from food production, many consumers don't seem to understand the hard work and investment needed to produce a crop, which is why National Ag Week is so important.
On National Ag Day, the U.S. Capitol dedicated a statue in honor of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. Dr. Borlaug was a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the largest building on the St. Paul campus, which specializes in agriculture education, is named in his honor. He was selected for this honor by his home state of Iowa, and the statue now stands in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Dr. Borlaug developed high-yield wheat varieties credited with saving a billion people from starvation, and he is considered one of our nation's most influential agriculture innovators. He is one of seven people in the world who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.
MN Farm Bureau
Members of the Minnesota Farm Bureau were in town for National Ag Week and met with me to discuss farm bill implementation and other issues of importance to their membership. Constituents from the Seventh District included Faye and Verdell Olson from Polk County and Wanda Stark, Paula Haraldson, and Mary Asche from Stearns County.
Agriculture Future of America
I met with college students Vinz Karl, Jade Kampsen, and Kelsey Ducheneaux who were participating in National Ag Day activities on Capitol Hill. Vinz, Jade, and Kelsey are members of Agriculture Future of America (AFA), a not-for-profit national organization known for its excellence in leader and career development training for top college students and young professionals in the agriculture industry. It is always great to meet with young people who are committed to agriculture.
American Coalition for Ethanol
I sat down with members of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) to talk about the value of ethanol in Minnesota and the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). ACE is a nonprofit organization with more than 1,500 members nationwide, including: ethanol producers, farmers, investors, the agriculture community, industry suppliers, rural electric cooperatives, and other supporters of increased ethanol production and use.
National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards
It was a pleasure to meet the 2013 National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Program winners, Nick and Tara Meyer from Stearns County. Nick and Tara are one of just four couples from across the United States to be honored by the Outstanding Farmers of America Fraternity with this award. The Meyers have a dairy farm near Sauk Centre.
National Pork Producers Council
I met with Dr. Howard Hill, who was recently elected president of the National Pork Producers Council. Dr. Hill is a pork producer and veterinarian from Cambridge, Iowa. The mission of the National Pork Producers Council is to fight for reasonable legislation and regulations, develop revenue and market opportunities and protect the livelihoods of America's 67,000 pork producers.
Ken Huebsch from New York Mills visited with me about his involvement with Farmers Feeding the World's Farm Team. Launched on National Ag Day, Farm Team is a national network of farmers who are passionate about the importance of agriculture in addressing global hunger.
I met with a group of Minnesotans who are clients of AgStar Financial Services to discuss farm bill implementation and other issues of importance to them. Based in Mankato, AgStar is a financial cooperative owned by its client-stockholders. AgStar is one of the larger Farm Credit associations in the United States, offering a wide range of financial services and business tools to approximately 23,000 agricultural and rural clients.
This Week in American History
On March 27th, 1775, Thomas Jefferson was elected to the second Continental Congress. Before becoming the United State's third President, he served as a delegate from Virginia who spent much of his time publishing papers about the colony's rights and the Virginia Constitution. Jefferson was chosen to compose the Declaration of Independence, which is considered one of the most important documents in American history. He also served as Virginia's governor, minister to France, and the nation's first U.S. Secretary of State under George Washington before holding the highest office in the free world.