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Peterson wants USDA changes

ST. PAUL -- Now that he's done negotiating a new farm bill, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said one of his priorities as House agriculture chairman next year will be to streamline the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

ST. PAUL -- Now that he's done negotiating a new farm bill, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said one of his priorities as House agriculture chairman next year will be to streamline the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"I think it's outmoded, out of date. It needs to be brought up to the 21st century," said Peterson, D-Minn., recently, sitting in his committee office on Capitol Hill. "Times have changed. We need to flatten the organization out, make it more accountable."

Peterson said he will turn to former agriculture chiefs for their advice, but one already is cautioning the Detroit Lakes Democrat to approach the issue carefully.

Former Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland of Roseau said forcing government to change is difficult.

"I had a shot at that once, and we changed our mind," said Bergland, also a former northwestern Minnesota congressman. "That's easier said than done."


"Have a go at it, but don't hold your breath," Bergland said of Peterson's plan.

Peterson said there are many layers of bureaucracy at the USDA and "too many people in the way."

"It just bogs things down too much," he said.

Peterson works on

oil issue with GOP

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is part of a bipartisan effort to find solutions to high gasoline prices.

The Hill, a Washington newspaper concentrating on Congress, reports that the western Minnesota Democrat is working with Republicans to slow oil speculation markets that he says drive up oil prices.

Peterson is the House Agriculture Committee chairman and has worked with the panel's top Republican to set up a hearing on the matter.


The Hill quotes Peterson as saying he has warned Democrats that they will not get everything they want on the issue "because this won't work if it's not bipartisan."

Pawlenty's new do

As July 4 approached, most political fireworks turned to things other than whether Gov. Tim Pawlenty would be John McCain's running mate.

But Salon's Mike Madden writes that he has proof Pawlenty wants to be McCain's vice presidential candidate:

"He cut his hair. Gone was the mullet he'd worn for years, even though Minnesota media outlets and political blogs mocked him for it. As Pawlenty hit the Sunday talk shows in May and June, he sported a trim new look. You might even call it vice presidential."

Candidate filing

deadline July 15

Federal, state and county candidates have until July 15 to file paperwork to run for Minnesota office.


It started off slowly Tuesday and did not pick up much during the holiday week.

The secretary of state's office is trying to keep its Web site up to date with filings.

Check http://candidates.sos.state.mn.us .

Not a gamble

Congressional Quarterly reports that "not everything that happens in Las Vegas stays in Vegas."

It's a cute opening to a story about U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and others getting money out of Sin City.

U.S. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada has invited many GOP Senate candidates to Vegas for fundraisers.

"I bring people out and raise money for them in Nevada that they could never raise anywhere else," Ensign told Congressional Quarterly. The Vegas benefactors, he added, "only give because I'm asking them."

Ensign leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Coleman has received $126,000 from Nevadans since the first of 2007.

"We all depend on all our colleagues to chip in," Coleman said. "We're outgunned. We expect the Dems to raise twice as much. We've got to work a little harder at what we do."

GOP souvenirs

Some Twin Cities entrepreneurs are looking to cash in on Republican delegates' apparent weakness -- at least compared with their Democratic counterparts -- when it comes to convention souvenirs.

"The numbers we've heard is that the average Republican convention guest purchases about $56 in 'memory' merchandise," Pady Regnier, owner of St. Croix Promotions and Retail, told The Associated Press. "The average Democrat -- about $9.80."

The Bloomington-based company that won the convention's souvenir contract plans to sell items such as campaign buttons, elephant hats, cuff links and money clips.

It hopes for gross revenues of $2 million when the Republican National Convention is held Sept. 1-4 in St. Paul.

St. Croix expects to sell more than 100,000 campaign buttons as well as T-shirts bearing a U.S. flag that could have flown during the last Republican convention that was held in Minnesota in 1982.

Besides souvenirs, entrepreneurs also will be making money on transportation.

Davis and Wente report for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald. The final item is from The Associated Press.

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