Collin Peterson forms “broader coalition” with Midwest Council on Agriculture – InForum

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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — It seems unlikely that an agricultural group still in its infancy will be able to land a speaker list for its very first conference that includes the Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for rural development, the senior administrator of the Farm Service Agency and General Counsel. on the Agriculture Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

But when the leader of the group is Collin Peterson, the former Minnesota congressman and longtime chairman of the House Ag Committee, that’s exactly what happened.

Since being removed from office, Peterson has focused on building the Midwest Council on Agriculture, a seven-state organization that brings together agriculture leaders to discuss policy and influence legislation, such as negotiations at come on the farm bill.

“We’re going to come up with a policy for the Midwest that we can put forward in the next Farm Bill,” Peterson said.

Former Congressman Collin Peterson, right, and USDA Rural Development Undersecretary Xochitl Torres Small speak at the inaugural Midwest Council Agriculture Forum August 22, 2022 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Jeff Beach / Agweek

The first Midwest Council Ag Forum was held Aug. 22-23 in Detroit Lakes, which Peterson calls home, with about 80 attendees.

The group has approximately 85 members representing the agriculture industry in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

“There just aren’t enough people in Congress who know anything about agriculture anymore,” Peterson said. “You need to have a broader coalition.”

Peterson said the group is modeled after one in the southwestern United States that has been around for about 20 years.

“I saw how effective it was, so when I got out of the office I decided to do it here in the Midwest,” Peterson said.
Xochitl Torres Small is a native of the Southwest, having represented a congressional district in New Mexico and served on the agriculture committee with Peterson.

Like Peterson, Torres Small was a Democrat in a district with many Donald Trump supporters and lost a re-election race in 2021. Peterson encouraged her to take on a national role in President Joe Biden’s administration and she is now under the direction of the United States Department of Agriculture. rural development secretary.

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USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small, left, and Collin Peterson served on the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. Peterson’s Midwest Council on Agriculture invited Torres Small to speak at the group’s first conference on August 22, 2022 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Jeff Beach / Agweek

She and Peterson closed the first day of the conference by addressing topics such as creating competition in the meatpacking industry, federal rural broadband programs to support advances in precision agriculture and the labor shortage. Torres Small was seeking input from the agriculture industry on the USDA policy.

“Some of the things I’ve heard are about how to make it easier to apply for our programs; how to ensure that we distribute investments in high-speed Internet to… the hardest-to-reach places; and how we invest in building better markets, like meat processing, in a way that really expands options for both consumers and producers,” Torres Small said after the session.

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USDA Rural Development Undersecretary Xochitl Torres Small, left, and former Congressman Collin Peterson discuss agricultural policy at the Midwest Council Ag Forum August 22, 2022 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Jeff Beach / Agweek

The conference started with a discussion on the Farm Bill.

Peterson said benchmark pricing for Title 1 products and improving crop insurance for livestock producers have been two topics of discussion, but the development of the farm bill largely depends on of who is in Congress.

“First, we have to pass the election,” Peterson said. “It’s going to depend on who wins in terms of how we approach it.”

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