DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — It's not been even three months since former U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson packed up his office on Capitol Hill and moved back to Detroit Lakes, Minn., but he's already got a new part-time job as a consultant for the agricultural lobbying firm Combest, Sell & Associates.
"I'm not very good at being retired," Peterson said in a Wednesday, March 10, telephone interview. "I've already found that out.
"I miss the engagement," he added. "I've been going a little stir crazy. All those years I was chair of the ag committee, all the problems in agriculture got brought to my desk, and I liked that challenge."
Peterson, who recently started his own ag consulting firm, The Peterson Group, says that he signed the agreement with Combest-Sell so that he can continue to work with the farmers and farming groups that he got to know during his long tenure with the U.S. House Agriculture Committee — many of whom were already on the firm's client list.
"They're the biggest firm representing production (agriculture) in Washington today," he said. "Their clients are farmers."
While he is prohibited from working as a lobbyist with Congress until Jan. 1 of next year, Peterson said he doesn't really see that as being his niche anyway.
"I'm not wild about being a lobbyist," he said. "I will be giving (clients) strategies and consulting with them on ideas."
Democrat Peterson lost Minnesota's 7th District to his challenger, Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., in November after 30 years.
Having chaired the House ag committee up until leaving office in January, Peterson said that his knowledge of the committee's membership and operations will be valuable to his clients.
What he won't be doing, however, is going back to Washington, D.C. — except as a visitor.
"I'm going to be working from Detroit Lakes," Peterson said, adding that with the current COVID-19 safety protocols in Washington, D.C., many of the offices that he would be working with are not open to the public, and their employees are working from home. And he can do Zoom calls just as easily in Detroit Lakes as he could in Washington.
In addition, he said, his new consulting job is basically part-time; he has plenty to do at his lake home, and on his farm, to keep him busy outside that work.
Besides, Peterson added, all of the contents of his old Capitol Hill office have been shifted back to Detroit Lakes, with much of the records and office furniture that he kept there having been donated to the Becker County Museum, where it will form the basis of an exhibit that is slated to be on display at the new museum building once it finishes construction.
"They're going to be breaking ground (on the new museum) soon," Peterson said. "They're going to be recreating my old office in there, so I've been working with them on that. They have a bunch of people sorting through my stuff — and they've been trying to get me to write a book.
"I have plenty of things to do here," he added. "This job is not going to be full time, so it kind of worked out perfect."