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For three decades, the Honorable Collin Peterson was dedicated to championing agricultural legislation in Washington, D.C. Known as the dairy policy expert in Congress, Peterson made significant contributions to the dairy industry through his selfless leadership.

Because of his efforts, Holstein Association USA is delighted to recognize former U.S. Rep. Peterson with the 2022 Distinguished Leadership Award. His dedicated service greatly benefited Holstein Association USA members, dairy farmers across the country, and the entire agriculture industry.

“I’m very flattered,” Peterson said about receiving the award. “I’m not sure if I deserve it, but I worked hard and did the best I could. We don’t have a perfect dairy program, but it’s better than it was before I started working on it.”

Peterson, of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, represented the state’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as a ranking member on the House Committee on Agriculture for five congressional sessions (2007 to 2011; 2019 to 2021) and was chairman three times (2005 to 2007; 2011 to 2019).

During this time, he worked on five farm bills, and was the driving force behind drafting three farm bills. Peterson initiated the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program that was included in the most recent farm bill. He used his vast knowledge to develop a solid safety net for dairy farmers.

Throughout his 30 years in Congress, Peterson worked with dairy farmers, local and national cooperatives and trade associations, and colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Alongside Holstein Association USA, Peterson was an advocate for national animal identification, and introduced the National FAIR Act calling for a mandatory national animal identification system to protect the health of our nation's herd.

Peterson was a key contributor and expert on anything dairy related on the House Ag Committee, and his initiatives have touched many different facets of the agriculture industry.

During his time in office, Peterson demonstrated the characteristics of a true leader as he carefully listened to farmers, gained a deep understanding of dairy policy, and used his knowledge to develop legislation that made a real difference. His unwavering efforts earned him the respect of farmers and fellow congressmen alike, and he was widely regarded as the go-to in Congress when it came to dairy and farm-related issues.

Peterson’s connection to agriculture traces back to his childhood growing up on his family’s farm. Although they did not milk cows themselves, he acquired valuable first-hand experience caring for animals and the land. Peterson worked with many dairy farmers during his time as a CPA in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, from 1968 to 1990. He got his start in politics when he served in the Minnesota State Senate for nine years, from 1977 to 1986.

“I spent a lot of time across the desk with dairy farmers, going back to the 1960s and 70s,” Peterson says. “I’ve been through a lot of the ups and downs of dairy. I got to know dairy farmers and their families, and I just admire their hard work. There is nobody that works harder than dairy farmers.”

About the Award

The Distinguished Leadership Award recognizes an individual who has made a career of providing outstanding and unselfish leadership for the betterment of the dairy industry. Collin Peterson will be recognized during the 2022 National Holstein Convention in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Friday, July 1, 2022.