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Back to the Future: A Productive Rural Minnesota Requires Healthy Minnesotans

My husband and I are self-employed. We raise and finish grass-fed beef, produce broilers on pasture and non-GMO feed, and are licensed to sell these meats frozen to consumers through stores and farmers’ markets in southeastern Minnesota. My husband and I also build cabinets out of our on-farm shop and do all kinds of custom…  Read More

Turning Up the Heat on McDonald’s

On Oct. 6, at lunchtime, I stood on the sidewalk outside a McDonald’s restaurant in St. Paul, Minn., facing the busy traffic on University Avenue with a colorful sign that said “Stop the Drift.” I was with a group of other supporters of the Toxic Taters Coalition: students, parents and community members who made time…  Read More

The Farm Kid & the People’s University

Just about halfway through Dennis Keeney’s slim memoir on his life in agriculture, the author’s tone changes dramatically. For 54 pages, The Keeney Place: A Life in the Heartland, delivers on its title—it offers a somewhat nostalgic glimpse at growing up during the mid-20th Century on a diverse family farm east of Des Moines, Iowa.…  Read More

Suppressing a 2-Way Conversation

Sometimes one has to lose something to gain an appreciation for just how valuable an asset it was. That thought came to mind during the last hearing of the 48-year-old Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board, which was held June 23 in Saint Paul. It was the last hearing because just a few weeks prior…  Read More

Farm Beginnings Profile: Micro Goals-Big Plans

Walking down a sloping lane on a spring afternoon, Luke and Liana Tessum surprise an Angus beef cow wandering up from a bottomland paddock. The lone bovine, and 18 cow-calf pairs grazing on the pasture below, represent the reaching of what the 30-something couple calls yet one more “micro-goal.” In December, the Tessums paid off…  Read More

Crop Insurance: Let the Next Generation of Farmers In

The Land Stewardship Project recently published a three-part expose of the federal crop insurance program. The white papers are titled: “Crop Insurance-the Corporate Connection,” “Crop Insurance Ensures the Big Get Bigger” and “How Crop Insurance Hurts the Next Generation of Farmers.” The final paper title provides the key to LSP’s concern. The introductory article says…  Read More

Report Shows Violation of Regulations Common Practice for Frac Sand Industry

Wisconsin Example Serves as a Warning to Minnesota Communities A new Land Stewardship Project report released today shows that the frac sand mining industry in Wisconsin is systemically disregarding state regulations, a red flag to communities in Minnesota that are grappling with the onslaught of this industrial activity. The report, which is based on an…  Read More

Community Conservation

It’s that age-old struggle: accepting a little short-term disturbance in the name of long-term stability. Dave Trauba regularly faces the challenge of explaining that tradeoff to hunters who visit the Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Refuge in western Minnesota only to find their favorite spot for shooting pheasants has recently been grazed by cattle from a…  Read More

Extinction: Predicting the Future by Creating it

I originally downloaded the audio version of Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, to simply keep me awake during a long wintry drive across the southern part of Minnesota and through the heart of Iowa. But by the time I arrived at my destination—a national conference on cover crops and soil…  Read More

Insuring Against Disaster

Thanks to the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill, federally subsidized crop insurance is an even bigger player in determining what the landscape looks like. That’s troubling, considering that in recent years that impact has been mostly negative, since the program removes most of the risk associated with plowing up acres formerly considered too erosive, wet…  Read More