House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, who has been the House Democrats’ most influential voice on farm policy for nearly two decades, announced Friday that he’s running for re-election to a 16th term in Congress, a source says. 

“This wasn’t an easy decision for me because our country is so polarized right now, but that’s also why I want to ask the voters of western Minnesota to support me again," Peterson said in a statement. "There aren’t many like me left in Congress. Rural Democrats are few and far between and I’m concerned that rural America is getting left behind."

Peterson, who has been an outspoken advocate for commodity programs and crop insurance, was under heavy pressure from farm groups inside and outside his western Minnesota district to run again. 

Farm groups have been raising money for his campaign, launching a super PAC called “The Committee for Stronger Rural Communities,” which is heavily backed by sugar growers and has raised more than $500,000 for him.

CSRC's steering committee chairman, Kelly Erickson, said after Peterson made that announcement that he "is the independent and effective voice we need in Washington for the 7th Congressional District. He is the best-equipped and best-positioned to deliver for our families, our veterans, our businesses and our farms." 

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Peterson has said that if he ran for re-election in 2020 he also would be committed to running again in 2022 to ensure he could help oversee development of the next farm bill. Peterson chaired House Ag when the 2008 farm bill passed and was the panel's ranking Democrat during the development of the 2014 and 2018 laws. 

The statement he issued Friday didn't address his 2022 plans. 

He is one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus and an original member of the Blue Dog coalition. He has repeatedly rejected efforts to get him to switch parties and no longer wins as easily in Minnesota’s 7th district, which President Donald Trump carried 61% to 31% in 2016.

In 2018, he defeated Republican Dave Hughes, a retired Air Force officer, by 52% to 48% and a similar margin in 2016. 

Hughes is running again this year but will likely have challengers in the GOP primary, including former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach. The primary is Aug. 11. 

“Good thing Collin Peterson already sold his house in D.C. – it’ll make the logistics a heck of lot easier once he loses in November,” said Calvin Moore, communications director for the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is close to the House GOP leadership. “The Democrats have put socialism on the ballot in 2020 and Collin Peterson will own every bit of it.”

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