Blog

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  • Robbing the Farm or Enriching the Farm: Which is the Better Way?

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    Ross Cooper and his family raise canning and grain crops on their Century Farm in Spring Valley in southeastern Minnesota. Shortly after his son was born, Ross converted to no-till to cut down on the amount of time he was spending in the tractor. More recently, he has begun integrating cover crops into the farming system. In addition to crop farming, they graze cattle on perennial pastures and...

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  • From Crisis to Community

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    A Shared Threat Prompts a Shared Vision for a New Farm

    As the land auction progressed, it looked like the parcel was on its way to exchanging hands at a decent price. But the landowner grew increasingly anxious about the guy who was likely to get the highest bid—he was a well-known owner of large-scale hog operations in the region. If he was the buyer, it was clear the...

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  • Stewardship, Justice & Democracy

    At the Land Stewardship Project, among member-leaders and staff, we’ve been thinking more about our work in the context of economic, racial, and gender equity in this country, and how that relates to core values of LSP, like stewardship, justice, community, democracy, and health. Land Stewardship Project’s board is meeting this week to give a final review and approval to a Long...

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  • Soil Health: Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Dividends

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    How One Farm’s Focus on Soil Health Helped Make Row-Cropping Viable...& Fun

    The economic benefits of building soil health are a balancing act between immediate payoff and delayed gratification. In an ideal situation, the source of those quick profits will set the foundation for a longer-term investment that pays dividends.

    For example, Dawn and Grant...

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  • A Farmer's View of Climate Change

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    Climate change is happening. Farmers who work with higher elevations may be able to deny it. Those of us on more variable and wetter soils cannot. I have been aware of it in our farming for 20 years.

    The water cycle is impaired. This is the most obvious. Excessive rainfall spreads into a huge number of rainy days and it becomes a challenge to walk from house to barn. Twenty years ago,...

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  • Renting It Out Right: A Hilltop View of the Land's Potential

    Mark Erickson’s Relationship with Landowners is Rooted in Healthy Soil

    When considering significant changes to the way one farms, there’s nothing like a couple acres of convincer, a template for the potential offered up by tapping into the land’s ability to build soil health in an economically viable manner utilizing livestock and perennial plants. Mark...

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  • Healthcare: LSP Members’ Fight for Provider Tax Scores a Major Victory

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    But A Divided Legislature Produced No Real Bold Steps Forward

    The Land Stewardship Project organizes for healthcare for all because we believe high-quality care is a basic need and something every person deserves, and because our current healthcare system that prioritizes corporate profits above all else is a major barrier to having thriving rural communities with more...

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  • The 2019 MN Legislative Wrap-up

    LSP Members Shaped the Outcomes & Continue to Build Power to Make Transformational Vision a Reality

    During the recently concluded session of the Minnesota Legislature, Land Stewardship Project members from across the state were deeply engaged in advancing our vision for a transformational farm and food system that fosters strong family farms, vibrant rural communities,...

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  • Final Hours of the MN Legislature: Where We Stand

    For decades, Land Stewardship Project members have been actively advocating for Minnesota policymakers to consistently advance a bold vision for family farmers, local foods, and the land. This year has been no different. Our rural, suburban, and urban communities are deeply connected and impacted by our state’s investment in and protection of our farms and the environment.

    This...

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  • Are You Trying to Grow a Crop in a Biological Desert?

    NOTE: John Meyer, his wife Linda and their two youngest children, Charlie and Maggie, farm about 500 acres in southwestern Olmsted County, Minn. John planted his first oat cover crop in early spring of 2016 on half his land — on frozen ground and through snow — and planted corn directly into that “green,” allowing the oats to reach mid-thigh height...

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  • Don’t Muddy the Waters: Stop Trampling on the Definition of 'Pasture'

    Minnesota's state leaders have the power and responsibility to act in the best interest of all Minnesotans, as well as our water and land. We rely on our state to ensure we have safe water to drink, clean air to breathe, and healthy land to pass down to the next generation. But right now, Big Ag interests are working hard to write special laws for themselves at the expense of the rest of us....

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  • LSP Promotes CSP at a Critical Time

    This week, the Land Stewardship Project is reaching out to farmers across Minnesota and Wisconsin with an important message: now is the time to sign-up for a program that rewards you for practices that produce positive conservation benefits on the land. The deadline for enrolling in the current ...

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  • LSP Stands With Bde Maka Ska

    The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) stands with the renaming of Minneapolis’ largest lake “Bde Maka Ska” and other decisions to strengthen visibility and truth telling for the indigenous peoples who have been systematically...

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  • Farm to School at the Legislature: Good News & Bad News

    During the 2019 session of the Minnesota Legislature, the Land Stewardship Project has been working with a large stakeholder group to push for "Farm to School" provisions to be included in the final Agriculture Finance Bill. What we are asking for is a very clear prescriptive grant program to reimburse schools...

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  • MN Supreme Court Hearing on Frac Sand Ban to be held April 10

    In our democracy, it is up to us as organized people to use our power to make sure our governments and institutions best serve people and the land. Nearly two-and-a-half years ago, the people of Winona County won an historic victory when the County Board of Commissioners voted to pass a ban on any new frac sand...

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  • Gabe Brown's Rags-to-Regeneration Story

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    In 2012, I had the great fortune to get a tip about a group of farmers, scientists and government soil conservationists who had teamed up in south-central North Dakota to take a holistic approach to making the land more resilient. By focusing intensively on building soil health utilizing a combination of practices—no-till, managed rotational grazing, cover-cropping, diverse cropping...

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  • Time for Action on Nitrate Pollution in our Groundwater

    The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is holding a public meeting in Red Wing at the St. James Hotel on Monday, March 25, at 5 p.m., to discuss the value of a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) on nitrate pollution in the karst area of southeastern Minnesota. (...

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  • LSP Supports Positive Direction of Walz Administration on Healthcare Budget

    The Land Stewardship Project works for solutions to the healthcare crisis in rural Minnesota because we know that lack of affordable, high-quality care is a major barrier to having thriving rural communities with more farmers on the land. We are pleased to see that Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan’s proposed Budget for One...

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  • 'Caring for the Land' with Cover Crops, the Roller-Crimper & Spring CC Seeding

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    I “care for” 50 acres of certified organic cropland east of Caledonia in southeastern Minnesota. Although small in acreage, I am intent upon building back my soil using alternative farming practices like roller-crimping winter rye and spring-seeding rye before soybeans. I'd like to share some insights I've gathered while figuring out how to implement these techniques successfully....

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  • Making Diversity Pay its Own Way

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    NOTE: During a Feb. 15 Land Stewardship Project workshop in Preston, Minn., Dawn and Grant Breitkreutz will be discussing how they are using no-till row cropping, managed rotational grazing and diversified cover cropping to build soil health profitably on their southwestern Minnesota farm. For...

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  • Grazing Cover Crops: Microbes = Money

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    To Olaf Haugen, microbes equal money. That's because at the height of the growing season on his family's farm in southeastern Minnesota's Fillmore County, 70 percent of the dairy herd's feed comes from grazing. He not only rotationally grazes permanent pastures, but runs his cows through plantings of annual cover crops, which he prefers to call, "annual forage sources." This heavy reliance on...

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  • Farm Transitions Profile: The Goal Standard of Farming

    One day in 2014, a man stopped by Bill and Bonnie McMillin’s farm tucked away in the hills of southeastern Minnesota’s Wabasha County and offered to pay cash for all 160 acres, lock, stock and barrel. Such an offer can be tempting. After all, Bill and Bonnie had worked hard over the previous few decades to build a 45-cow dairy operation, which they later transitioned to a grass-fed...

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  • LSP Sets Priorities for 2019 MN Session

    The Land Stewardship Project’s State Policy Steering Committee convened last week to start setting LSP’s state policy priorities for the 2019 Minnesota Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 8. The committee, made up of LSP members who are farmers and leaders in their communities, directs what LSP supports and champions on the state level. Below are the issues that LSP will be...

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  • 2018 Farm Bill: Some Victories, but Bigger Reform Needed

    'Our Farm Bill' Campaign Concludes for Now

    The membership of the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) launched the “Our Farm Bill” campaign in 2016 as an ambitious grassroots effort of family farmers, rural communities and urban allies to change the direction of federal policy. It was a campaign based on the vision that our public policy should originate from and support family...

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  • Building a Dairy Farm's Resilience Through Soil Health

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    It has become far too common these days to open a newspaper or hear from a neighbor about another small dairy going under, whether it be from a labor shortage, slim margins on low milk prices, or the nonstop work of running a dairy...

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