Minnesota agriculture industry may feel blows of Peterson loss

Rep. Collin Peterson was the U.S. House Representative from Minnesota's 7th Congressional District for the last 30 years. He lost the 2020 election to Republican Michelle Fischbach.

MINNESOTA — It may have been one of the bigger upsets in this years U.S. House race.

Fifteen-term incumbent Collin Peterson lost the race for U.S. Representative in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District to Republican Michelle Fischbach.

In a mainly rural district dominated by agriculture, the loss was felt heavily by farmers.

“He knew agriculture arguably better than any representative in the federal government,” said Neil Rockstad, the President of the Red River Valley Sugar Beet Growers Association. “He brought our interests – and by our interests, I mean farmers interests – along with the interests of rural communities and hospitals and schools. He brought that blend of common sense to Washington, which was a rarity.”

Peterson’s commitment to the agricultural industry is evident by his position as the chairman of the House’s Agricultural Committee.

“A chairman is a big deal and I think a lot of people underestimated the value of having a chairman from our own district representing us as a chairman of a very important committee,” said Gary Wertish, who is the president of the Minnesota Farmer’s Union.

“To have somebody basically in your backyard that knows the commodities that we raise on a personal level and have that kind of representation at the highest level of the ag committee was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” added Rockstad.

During his three-decade career in congress, Peterson was vital in three separate Farm bills.

Among the work Peterson has done to support farmers has been establishing permanent funding for beginning farmers and ranchers, increasing the sugar loan by 5% in 2018 and helping to strike bi-partisan legislation to provide $285 million in disaster assistance for sugar co-ops to help growers dealing with bad weather.

Both Rockstad and Wertish say they are encouraged by Fischbach promising that she will fight for a spot on the Ag committee, although they know it will take time before she has the kind of influence that Peterson had.

Categories: Agriculture, Agriculture, Local News, Minnesota News, Politics / Elections