Congressman Collin Peterson looks for reelection by supporting rural communities

With a record number of Americans already casting their ballots, one tight political race is drawing national attention in Minnesota’s 7th congressional district.

Incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson has been in office since 1990 and he holds the top spot on the House Ag Committee. He is running against former Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fishbach, a Republican endorsed by President Trump.

Rep. Peterson is a founding member of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. He says that finding solutions for COVID-19 and future pandemics is a priority.

“I would say that we’re probably going to spend the first part of next year on the Ag Committee working through this and what I’d like to do is get things on the shelf where the rules are written, the money is identified, all that stuff, so that if we have another pandemic, if we have African swine fever, if we have hoof and mouth disease, if we have avian influenza, we’ve got a plan ready to go and we can go to work the next day and that’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.

Until the 2023 Farm Bill is written, passed and implemented, the committee has to find solutions that work within the 2018 legislation.

“The problem we’re going to have is finding the resources to do what needs to be done because we don’t have any additional spending that’s available to the Ag Committee... We have to follow the baseline of what’s in the 2018 bill, if there is any extra money needed it has to come from somebody else, or you have to cut spending within the Farm Bill, which isn’t going to happen.”

The last Farm Bill also included a significant expansion in broadband funding and Congressman Peterson says that it should be more targeted to help the areas that need it most.

“I’ve got this bill where you would take the Universal Service Fund off of telephones, put it on broadband and require that it only be used for unserved areas,” he said. “That’s the problem in rural America, and we need to focus this stuff so that we aren’t allowing these big companies to go in and overbuild systems in cities that already have a system.”

He has also been working to support rural hospitals through the Critical Access Hospital System and Rural Development Funds:

“We need to make sure that we don’t undermine our rural hospitals because you can’t maintain these rural communities if the only hospital you have is 100 miles away or 150 miles away. So, that’s something we are working on,” Peterson said. “We have money in the Rural Development Fund that is being used to help build some of these hospitals.”

During the final presidential debate, President Donald Trump touted $28 billion dollars in aid to help farmers impacted by the trade war with China, but Peterson says that tariffs are not enough to hold China accountable.

“I don’t agree that we’re going to be able to get China to behave themselves just by using tariffs; so, we’ve got to get our other allies to work with us to put the pressure on China to get them to quit doing these things that are really in violation of the WTO.”

He also says that it was a mistake to back away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and wants to see new negotiations with member countries.

For the full interview, click HERE.

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