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Farm Bill motivates Peterson to run for 15th term

WILLMAR, Minn. - U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson doesn't have much hope that a new Farm Bill will be passed before Congress goes into recess this summer. Instead it is more likely that the current Farm Bill will be extended, locking in place most of th...

Representative Collin Peterson says getting the Farm Bill passed is a motivator for the run for his 15th term. Erica Dischino / Forum News Service
Representative Collin Peterson says getting the Farm Bill passed is a motivator for the run for his 15th term. Erica Dischino / Forum News Service
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WILLMAR, Minn. - U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson doesn't have much hope that a new Farm Bill will be passed before Congress goes into recess this summer. Instead it is more likely that the current Farm Bill will be extended, locking in place most of the farm programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program until a new bill can be passed.

"It shouldn't be this way," Peterson said during a visit Wednesday, May 30, to the Willmar West Central Tribune.

The 2018 Farm Bill was defeated in the House of Representatives last week on a 198-213 vote. All the Democrats and 30 Republicans voted against the bill, in part due to proposed changes to SNAP, including increased work requirements for some receiving benefits. Peterson said half of the 30 Republicans voted against the bill because they disagreed with the changes in the program, commonly referred to as food stamps, while the other half voted against it because they felt the changes didn't go far enough.

"I tried to kill it and we did. I warned them not to do what they were doing," Peterson said. "In my position, I had to represent my caucus and my caucus was 100 percent against what they were trying to do."

Peterson said the Senate was also never going to pass the bill with the more stringent requirements on recipients of the nutrition assistance, so he didn't understand why the Republicans tried to put those changes in the bill.

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"Why are we splitting up the urban-rural coalition we've had for 50 years over something that isn't going to happen. It doesn't make any sense," Peterson said.

Once the legislation failed, Peterson said he was willing to go back to the negotiating table. However, the Republicans said they could not negotiate.

"I haven't heard one word out of them since," Peterson said. "I've only spoken to (House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike) Conway one time in six weeks. How do you get anything done like that?"

Working to get a Farm Bill passed is one of the main reasons why Peterson has decided to run for his 15th term in the House. If the Democrats take back the House, Peterson will be the chairman of the Ag Committee.

In the race for District 7, Peterson's competition from two years ago, Republican Dave Hughes, is running against him again.

Peterson won the 2016 election with 52 percent of the vote.

"I survived, people still can't believe I did that," Peterson said. "We are going to run a more aggressive campaign this time."

Asked whether a "blue wave" of Democratic victors is on the way, Peterson said it was too early to say, but that the Republicans are probably going to lose seats, especially since 45 House Republicans have announced their retirements.

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"It'll tighten up for sure," Peterson said.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2018
Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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