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Township Official: U of M Frac Sand Mining Conference Anything but Neutral

I am a Planning Commissioner in Florence Township, which is in southeast Minnesota’s Goodhue County. I am also chair of the Save-The-Bluffs Citizen’s group and a new member of the Land Stewardship Project. I have been heavily involved in the silica frac sand issue here in Goodhue County since May 2011. I was retired once,…  Read More

Passing on the Farm: Some Preventive Maintenance

On the Internet, you’re only as old as you feel—at least until the person you’re corresponding with travels from two states away to meet you face-to-face. When Dave and Deb Welsch started communicating via e-mail with Steve and Shelley Lorenz in 2007, a lot of assumptions were made about the age of the parties on…  Read More

Let’s Pull Back the Curtain on Frac Industry

I am a 6th-generation Winona County resident; I live near Lewiston on the family farm where I was raised. We are here today, in the spirit of openness and full transparency, to learn more about an industry that is poised to make a huge and rapid impact on this beautiful region. We are a region…  Read More

Rolling Our Land to Death

I sat in a farmhouse one afternoon last month as a hot wind lifted rich topsoil from surrounding fields. On the drive in, I’d noticed a surprising amount of rill erosion on newly tilled cropland—surprising because recent rains had not been all that intense and the fields were not unusually steep. Out of the blue…  Read More

Crop Insurance: A Safety Net Becomes a Threat

When it comes to the crop insurance sweepstakes, southwest Minnesota farmer Darwyn Bach is a winner. But he concedes that his good fortune presents a quandary, since the way the program is implemented these days creates significant losers: the soil, beginning farmers and Main Street businesses that suffer when the number of families in a…  Read More

Eating Our Own Farm Financial Cooking

One winter evening in 1999 I was sitting in on a Farm Beginnings class being held in the southeast Minnesota community of Plainview when a local banker stood up and made a statement that about knocked me out of my chair. “We need to eat our own cooking,” said the banker, Dean Harrington. The statement…  Read More

Homegrown Homeland Security

While sitting in a western Wisconsin high school auditorium listening to farmers and other rural residents discussing urban sprawl the other evening, I was struck by an epiphany of sorts: the argument for saving farmland near our cities and suburbs has evolved beyond the “let’s save our pretty viewscapes” phase. Protecting prime farmland from the…  Read More