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Sugar industry spearheads super PAC for Peterson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Minnesota sugar producers are spearheading a new super PAC, called the Committee for Stronger Rural Communities, formed July 19, to help get Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., reelected in 2020.

American Crystal Sugar Co., a Moorhead, Minn.-based farmer-owned sugar production and processing cooperative, made an initial $150,000 contribution to the super PAC, which raised $300,000 in its first week.

Kelly Erickson, a fourth-generation sugar beet, wheat and soybean farmer at Hallock, Minn., chaired the steering committee for the group.

“Times are tough on America’s farms and in rural communities right now. We desperately need leaders in Congress who understand agriculture, the importance of rural development, and how to support Main Street. Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson embodies that kind of leadership, and rural communities from coast to coast are depending on him to be re-elected,” Erickson said in a written statement.

“My son is the fifth-generation to work on our family farm, and I am worried about what the future will hold for the next generation,” Erickson added. That’s why I’m standing up to fight for rural America by electing officials like Chairman Peterson, who embody our values, our work ethic, and our way of life. And I’m confident many others in rural communities feel the same way and will join this effort.”

Peterson is likely to run for reelection in Minnesota’s Seventh District, but has not yet officially announced. He has served in Congress since 1991. Republican Dave Hughes, of Karlstad, announced he will again challenge for the seat in the 2020 election.

Super PACs can’t coordinate directly with a campaign. They spend money independently and can spend unlimited amounts on a congressional race.

Brian Ingulsrud, vice president of agriculture at American Crystal, is listed as the super PAC’s treasurer. Dan Mott, general counsel, is also listed on the super PAC’s statement of organization.

Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is a staunch supporter of the sugar industry. Separately, American Crystal also has an official PAC that coordinates directly with candidates.