Category: Sustainability

Minnesota Department of Ag offers helpline for stressed farmers

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture unveiled the Farm & Rural Helpline this fall as a resource for Minnesota farmers and rural residents under stress. The free, confidential service is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

While MDA long offered a crisis line to farmers, Meg Moynihan, state programs administrator principal with MDA, said the service was retooled and relaunched as the Farm & Rural Helpline to reach farmers before stress becomes a more serious crisis.

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Minnesota corn farm-Summer 2016

2018 Innovation Grant Program proposal deadline is Dec. 15

Minnesota corn farmers once again have the opportunity to put their innovative conservation ideas into action through the Minnesota Corn Growers Association’s (MCGA) Innovation Grant Program. Proposals on how to reduce nitrate loss, improve soil health, and protect water quality are being accepted through Dec.15, 2017.

MCGA, working alongside the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council (MCR&PC), is offering a total of $300,000 in Innovation Grants to any Minnesota corn farmer seeking to test or develop an innovative or best practice in the following areas:

  • Nitrate loss reduction
  • Improved nitrogen management practices for Minnesota soils
  • Maintaining or improving water quality
  • Innovative soil conservation practices
  • Comparing and contrasting the measurable values of large data set decision tools

In 2017,

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End-of-year crop survey results needed for safety net programs

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will survey approximately 90,000 U.S. producers for final information on 2017 row crops during the first two weeks of December. Details on harvested acreage, production and storage will be used to establish farm safety net programs, making it crucial farmers take the time to provide accurate information.

NASS uses the survey results to help establish county level estimates used by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for the Agriculture Risk Coverage program and the Risk Management Agency to administer insurance programs.

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Innovation Grant Spotlight: Matt Wiebers

The 2017 Innovation Grant Program is well underway, with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) investing more than $250,000 in 23 farmer-led projects focused on conservation. Throughout the summer and fall we have been highlighting ongoing projects focused on how to better manage nitrogen and protect water quality. You can apply to the 2018 Innovation Grant Program here.

As an Innovation Grant recipient, Matt Wiebers is working with farmers to find the optimal nitrogen rate on their farms through trials that not only provide actionable information,

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Ecuador producers visit MN to tour local ethanol plant

A group of farmers from small to mid-sized poultry, swine and dairy farms in Ecuador visited Minnesota earlier this week for a close look at the production of American DDGS, as they explore the ethanol coproduct as an alternative feed.

While it produces its own corn, Ecuador has tight restrictions on corn imports. However the price of corn in the country is high, which led livestock producers to learn more about the production and safety of DDGS as a possible alternative to import.

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MN ag leaders promote the importance of free trade

AgriGrowth held its annual meeting last week in the Twin Cities, bringing together representatives from agriculture and the food systems industry. With the renegotiation of NAFTA front-of-mind for many in the ag sector, the meeting kicked off with a panel session on trade and what is at stake for U.S. agriculture.

The panel featured Devry Boughner Vorwerk, vice president of global corporate affairs at Cargill, Jeff Nawn, global grain trade and biotech affairs lead for DuPont Pioneer,

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U.S. Grains Council: Pace of NAFTA talks not unusual, but worth monitoring

The fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations between the United States, Canada and Mexico ended earlier this month with little progress made in efforts to revamp the free trade agreement. The stalled negotiations have been a source of worry for farmers, who are understandably concerned about tariffs in a non-NAFTA world.

Not so fast, however, according to Thomas Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council.

Sleight said four rounds of negotiations with little progress is actually fairly normal in renegotiating a trade deal of this size.

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Co-op health plan offered to farmers, informational sessions scheduled

During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton approved a law that enabled farmers to form health care cooperatives to provide another option for farmers to help address rising health insurance premiums. The rule paved the way for 40 Square Cooperative Solutions to begin offering self-funded health plans to Minnesota farmers.

Farmers who are considered an “employer” with at least one common law employee and work in production agriculture are eligible.

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Innovation Grant Spotlight: Hicks family brings science home to the farm

(Photo:  The Hicks family, who received the Innovation Grant, in order—David Hicks, Adam Hicks, Brian Hicks, Michelle Hicks, Madelynne Hicks, Mariah Hicks, Mercedes Hicks and in front is Stephen Hicks.)

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The 2017 Innovation Grant Program is well underway, with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) investing more than $250,000 in 23 farmer-led projects focused on conservation. Throughout the summer and fall we have been highlighting ongoing projects focused on how to better manage nitrogen and protect water quality.

Read more >

U of M Extension offering free financial consulting to farmers

With four years of low commodity prices and no clear sign of a turnaround, University of Minnesota Extension services has started offering one-to-one financial counseling to farmers in financial stress at no cost.

The free service is offered in response to a sharp uptick in requests for Extension to offer financial consulting, according to Kevin Klair, who is an extension professor in the department of applied economics.

Klair said financial stress has increased rapidly since 2013,

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