Minnesota farmers were able to get a lot of field work done last week, thanks to the lack of rain. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were 6.2 days suitable for field work in Minnesota for the week ending Sunday. That marks the most days suitable for any week so far this season.
On Thursday, Jason DeRusha and Jamie Yuccas headed east to New Richmond, Wis. where they visited the Heritage Center, went kayaking on the Apple River, explored Willow River State Park, enjoyed the 45th Parallel Distillery and visited Star Prairie Trout Farm.
Sunday’s beautiful weather is a relief to most of us, but one particular group is really grateful. Farms are finally buzzing with activity after a long cold winter and wet spring, which was a terrible combination for farmers. So, planting is way behind in many parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
A report by the National Climate Assessment says a warming planet will worsen a series of weather trends already showing up across the Midwest. Look for more extremes: searing heat, late-spring freezes, floods and droughts across a region that includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri.
New federal data show the number of farms in Minnesota fell 8 percent from 2007 to 2012, while the market value of agricultural products the state’s farmers sold increased by 61 percent over the same five-year period.
A case set for trial next week is expected to test Minnesota’s “Buy the Farm” law, which is meant to require utilities building high-voltage power lines to buy out farms in the way if affected landowners demand it. The case pits the CapX2020 project against Cedar Summit Farm near New Prague (prayg), a dairy that fills glass bottles on site and feeds its cows a 100 percent grass diet.
The persistent snow is delaying the beginning of fieldwork on farms across Minnesota. In its first weekly crop progress and condition report of the season for Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says last week’s heavy snow is one reason why no days were rated suitable for fieldwork last week. Planting of some early crops such as oats usually begins around now.
Wildlife and environmental groups are claiming victory for conservation practices in the new farm bill, where two of their top priorities made it into law. Farmers will be required to use good conservation practices on highly erodible lands and protect wetlands to qualify for crop insurance subsidies. And the law requires “sodsaver” protections to discourage farmers from plowing up native grasslands in several Plains and Midwest states.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is updating its annual Minnesota Grown directory of farms and farmers markets. The 2013 edition listed 970 farmers and farmers markets. Producers who grow or raise products to sell directly to consumers are eligible to be included.
A local egg company has been named one of four finalists competing to have their ad played at this year’s Super Bowl in February. Locally Laid Egg Company has already beat out thousands of others to get this far and now they need your help to get more votes.
According to the owners of Locally Laid Eggs, their chickens are known as athletes. Oh, and they’re all named ‘Lola.’ The egg company is one of the finalists in a competition to win free ad time during the Super Bowl. The family farmers were in the Twin Cities Monday in an effort to get out the vote for the contest, which is sponsored by the software company Intuit. Owners Lucy and Jason Amundsen, along with their kids and the Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, were celebrating the announcement at the Seward Co-Op in south Minneapolis.
This week’s snow has added to an already wet crop, and that means a lot of farmers will rely on grain dryers to dry out their corn. “You can’t dry it, you can’t combine it, and you can’t get it done,” said Peter Leuer of Leuer Farms.
Minnesota farms are getting wired. New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that 71 percent of Minnesota farms now own or lease a computer, a slight increase from 2011.
A U.S. senator said a reform bill isn’t just good for our broken immigration system. At the State Capitol Monday afternoon, Sen. Al Franken said the bill is also good for Minnesota farms and businesses.
With snow on the ground in many areas, it’s hard to think about growing fresh vegetables. But across the Upper Midwest CSA farms are not only thinking about it, they are planting.