Autumn Ag

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• Bridging the digital divide in rural Mower County FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2019

• Princess Kay of the Milky Way crowned

Photo illustration, Eric Johnson/




Bridging the digital divide in rural Mower County By Hannah Yang

For those living in rural Mower County, high-speed internet may be closer to reality. The Mid Continent Communication (MIDCO) based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, requested a resolution and letter of support from Mower County after being provisionally awarded $38.9 million in Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II funding through the Federal Communications Commission to provide high-speed internet access to 9,371 places using optical fiber and terrestrial fixed wireless assets. On Tuesday, the Mower County Board unanimously approved to pass a resolution and support MIDCO after the organization received $38.9 million in Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II funding from the Federal Communications Commission to provide high-speed internet access to 9,371 places in rural Mower County by using optical fiber and terrestrial fixed wireless assets. Harren stated that the Phase II support recipients must offer commercially at least one voice and one broadband service meeting the relevant service requirements to the required number of locations in the following


“For farmers even, using self-driving tractors and determing the level of pesticides and other chemicals to determine soil health and figuring out their till is a huge part of the ag model. It would be a disadvantage to our farmers if there’s no access to high-speed internet.” Trish Harren, Mower County Adminstrator time frame: — 40 percent of the required number of places in Minnesota by the end of the third year of support — An additional 20 percent in each subsequent year — 100 percent by the end of the sixth year of support —The exact deployment schedule is determined by the carriers themselves and not the FCC. Also, the recipients have to file with Universal Service Administrative Company yearly reports and built-out milestone certifications and data on the locations where service is available. Failure to meet these

terms of support can result in increased reporting requirements as well as possibly withholding support. Much of Mower County remains underserved or not served at all by high-speed internet. It is apparent that outside the city limits in Austin, much of the sparsely populated communities in surrounding townships and communities are barely receiving, or not receiving, internet services. Harren knows the reality of how important having rural broadband is for a small town. Having served in rural Itasca County, in northern Minnesota, Harren saw that the lack of high-speed internet saw businesses suffer and the real estate mar-

ket take a significant hit. In a town where recreational tourism is the main draw, having internet was crucial to maintain the local economy. “Fixed assets weren’t an option back then,” she said. “Tech wasn’t as advanced back then as it is now. We couldn’t go through trees since Itasca dealt mostly with forestry. It’s much easier to implement this in Mower County.” Although there weren’t specific percentages as to how much of Mower County remains underserved or unserved entirely, Harren said that the high cost often deterred providers from extending services to areas where populations were more sparse. “The agricultural areas have sparse populations that would not support the expense of a fiber build out there because there are not enough users,” Harren said. “We have a lot of geography that is completely unserved with sparse population due to our ag industry. We also have a large underserved geography. Without Minnesota Broadband and the FCC doing this type of funding, it would not be financially feasible in rural areas. It takes a MIDCO grant to make this possible.”



This map shows the amount of area in Mower County that is either unserved or underserved in terms of broadand internet in comparison to those areas that are served. Provided by Minnesota Employment and Economic Development

Currently, MIDCO is working on an application for Minnesota Broadband funds that would permit them to build out broadband in unserved or underserved areas in rural Minnesota by working with six counties and submit their grant with either five or six projects. Mower County was chosen as one of the six counties to be eligible for a grant between $300,000 to $500,000 for its project of bringing rural broadband into the area and was part of the region that was awarded Connect America Funds because of the large geographic area that was unserved and underserved. Harren said that the goal is to keep deployment costs low at under $5,000



per home. If the county board approves, then this will be included in their Minnesota Broadband grant application. If given the Minnesota Broadband grant, then MIDCO would provide high-speed internet access to every home and business in the following areas: • Sargeant • Waltham • Elkton • Grand Meadow Then, MIDCO would deploy fixed wireless assets in a six- to seven-mile radius within those communities. Harren shared that even though many providers continue to focus

more on fiber in ground solutions, MIDCO has been utilizing deployment solutions including fixed asset high-speed access and a hybrid solution using a mix of fiber and cable. “With Mower County being a large ag community, fiber in the ground was never a viable option,” she said. “But, MIDCO can put fiber in the ground in towns while using fixed assets such as grain elevators and sending signals from a direct fiber connection, then they can cover almost every part of the county.” For those living in the rural areas of Mower County, finding a stable internet connection was hard enough. But, finding high-speed

internet was another challenge entirely, Harren said. Many, have adapted to finding ways to get their internet needs met. “I know some farmers use hotspots from their phones to use the internet to conduct their home businesses,” she said. “Some need to install cameras on their self-driving tractors and other advanced technological equipment. It’s one of those things that provides to the digital divide between Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities.” Harren noted that without high-speed internet, businesses in rural communities, entrepreneurs and the local economy’s viability would be affected dramatically. AUSTIN DAILY HERALD  AUTUMN AG

Healthcare would also be affected, as patient files are now all digital and clinics close if in violation of HIPPA laws. School districts would fall behind if students aren’t able to access resources that are online, and if there’s no stable connection to do their school work at home during eLearning days. “Teachers are using so much technology in the classrooms,” Harren said. “We need to completely change accessibility to make broadband more affordable and be competitive. Almost half of Mower County doesn’t have high-speed internet outside of Austin. We need to put the pressure on legislators to address that disparity in rural America.” The FCC stated that providers must build out to 40 percent of the assigned homes and businesses in Minnesota within three years of becoming authorized to receive support.

Build-out must also increase by 20 percent each following year until complete build-out is reached at the end of the sixth year. Connect America Fund Phase II auction is part of a larger effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America. The commission is also working toward a launch of a $4.53 billion Mobility Fund Phase II auction to expand 4G LTE wireless coverage throughout rural America. “This would change in-home businesses,” Harren said. “In rural Itasca, once we obtained high-speed internet, small businesses grew, and the real estate purchasing market wouldn’t have been successful. In a place where the town depended on recreation, not having access to internet meant less people wanting to purchase a cabin, or not go to a resort where there’s no internet.”

Once Mower County decides to support the project, then it’s likely that rural broadband will continue onward to bring residents from all over the area into the high-speed digital age. “There’s a large understanding that internet is now considered a utility and not a luxury,” Harren said. “You need it for work and for school. For farmers, even using self-driving tractors and determining the level of pesticides and other chemicals to determine soil health and figuring out their till is a huge part of the ag model. It would be a disadvantage to our farmers if there’s no access to highspeed internet. Many people have to drive to get access and that’s the same thing for kids to drive into town.” If Mower County is chosen as a recipient, then the project of installing rural broadband

would begin next summer. Although some could argue that technology disengages those from the world around them, Harren actually believes in the opposite. “I think that it can also connect us, particularly in rural areas,” she said. “It’s a really important asset in Mower County. While rapid changes can happen on the East and West Coast, the Midwest can be left behind. The world has changed so much and we are able to change and grow more quickly. This can have an impact on fashion, food, healthcare, and rural broadband will help us from being left behind. We may not need the newest thing to improve the quality of life, but now people have an option. This is about giving people a choice in whether they want to disconnect or not.”

Sen. Klobuchar and Smith announce $830k USDA Grants to help farmers cut energy costs Austin Daily Herald

On Aug. 20, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced that the USDA is investing nearly $830,000 in grants to Minnesota to help reduce energy costs for farmers and ag producers through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Grants have been awarded to 54 Minneso-


ta projects, mostly on family farms. “These Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants will help Minnesotans develop renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to increase the productivity and efficiency of their farms and operations,” Klobuchar said. “I fought to protect REAP funding in both the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills because these programs are a win for both farmers and for the environment.”

Minnesota recipients can use REAP grants to install renewable energy systems—like biofuels or power generation from wind, solar, or biomass, for example—and make energy efficiency improvements. Funds can also be used on energy storage projects and energy audits. “ We n e e d t o h e l p M i n n e s o t a ag during these tough times, and helping

it cut energy costs is one of the steps we should take,” said Smith, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “I fought to significantly strengthen REAP in the 2018 Farm Bill so that Minnesota farms, as well as agribusinesses and rural communities, can build or expand their own cost-saving energy projects. REAP works for our farm families and I look forward to seeing how this helps lift up Minnesota Ag.”



Growing the local foods economy This time of year, the farmers’ markets are rich with local vegetables, berries, meats, breads and jams. It’s a visual testament to the abundance of our region and the ever-growing local foods economy that is sustained by consumers who want to buy directly from area farmers. At Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), we have been supporting the local foods economy in our 20-county region through a variety of initiatives over the years. In 2013, the FEAST! Local Foods Network was launched with the purpose of supporting local food producers and food-makers by boosting access to financing, resources and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The network, which started with a partnership between SMIF and Renewing the Countryside, is comprised of more than 60 organizations, businesses, and individuals committed to growing a sustainable, local and regional food system. One of the outcomes of this network is the Grow a Farmer Fund. The fund, which was supported by more than 250 generous



Tim Penny

President and CEO Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation donors and is managed by SMIF, offers low interest loans of up to $15,000 to help small scale farmers in SMIF’s region purchase the equipment and supplies they need to be successful. EJ Mushrooms in Kasota used the loan to convert a detached garage into a yearround mushroom farm. Hare and Tortoise Farm in Zumbro Falls used the loan to scale up their operations by installing a waterway and purchasing a root washer for their vegetable farm. Other Grow a Farmer loan

clients include Antonia Navarro (a chicken farmer in Faribault) and two additional vegetable farms - My Sweet Greens MN in Zumbrota and Pearson Organics in Oronoco. SMIF also participates in support of another fund, the Minnesota Good Food Access Fund, which provides grants, technical assistance and loans to enterprises working to increase access to healthy and affordable food. The FEAST! Local Foods Network also supports farm and food entrepreneurs through technical assistance. Each month, a Local Foods Peer Group meets to discuss business challenges and successes, learning from each other in order to grow their businesses. A program called FEAST! Smart Start Initiative provides customized coaching for business owners. In 2018, SMIF provided grants to Region Nine Development Commission and the Sustainable Farming Association of MN (SFA), Cannon River Chapter to expand this program. Region Nine worked with entrepreneurs over a seven-month period to support them in building a network of

relationships that will help grow their businesses and expand operations. The SFA Chapter used the grant to launch a regional brand, Cannon Valley Grown, which identifies food produced in the Cannon River watershed. An event that I look forward to every year is the FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace. One thousand, five hundred people attend the event, which is a tradeshow experience for food-makers and farmers from southern Minnesota and the surrounding areas to make sales to retail and food service buyers, and the general public. The event will be held Dec. 6-7, at the Rochester Mayo Civic Center, just in time for holiday shopping. It’s amazing to see the partnerships that have been made, the relationships that have been strengthened and the businesses that have grown since the FEAST! Local Foods Network launched six years ago. As we like to say at SMIF, collaboration is the key to vitality in our region. This is especially evident in the local foods economy


Farmers benefit from global agricultural research By Megan Nelson American Farm Bureau Federation via The Associated Press

Agricultural research, whether it’s conducted in the United States or abroad, has forever transformed the landscape of farming. From the hybridization of plant species and the production of biofuels to the utilization of precision-agricultural technologies, when countries invest in agricultural research the world benefits. Providing economic-development programs to developing countries reduces poverty rates and increases purchasing power, which expands market opportunities for U.S. farmers. The United States has provided $49.87 billion, or 1.2 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product, in assistance to developing countries. Of that 44 percent is dedicated to economic-development programs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For decades the United States has leveraged agricultural-research and economic-development assistance to developing countries into new market access and potential future trading partners. Those assistance efforts have a positive impact on the U.S. economy and employees through direct and indirect spillover benefits. Spillover benefits occur when the consumption of a good or service by one group of individuals positively impacts a third party. Consider direct spillover benefits


Direct spillover benefits of U.S.-funded agricultural research and development in developing countries come from international research efforts to develop nutrient-enriched and disease-resistant seed strains. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, a partner of the United States Agency for International Development, estimates the organization generates benefits of $3.5 billion to $4 billion every year. In its 2018 annual report, the organization stated the release of 48 wheat varieties and 81 corn varieties throughout the world. New stress-tolerant corn varieties were planted by 3.5 million farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 102,000 farmers throughout South Asia utilized innovative farm machinery, zero-tillage or advanced-seeding dates as part of the organization’s efforts. Benefits exclusive to the United States are valued at $140 million to $180 million, with a cost-to-benefit ratio of 32-to-1 from research projects improving wheat productivity alone. Another example of the direct benefits associated with collective research is the United States Agency for International Development’s “Feed the Future” program at the Grain Legumes Innovation Lab, which is led by Michigan State University. The new Zorro black-bean variety, the No. 1 variety grown in Michigan, is a new upright excellent-yielding variety that’s estimated to increase the value to growers by

$10 million per year. Much of the increased value to farmers comes from reduced production costs. They are able to easily harvest the crop due to the upright nature of the stalk. Explore indirect spillover effects Other spillover benefits that come from U.S. investment in agricultural research and development in developing countries stems from the growth of new markets. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, agriculture accounts for 22 percent of gross domestic product and employs twothirds of the labor force in the least-developed countries. Therefore an investment in agricultural productivity bolsters both the agricultural sector and the overall economy by increasing incomes and the country’s gross domestic product. As developing-country income levels increase, so do taste preferences. That leads to an increased demand for excellent-quality protein, creating additional markets for U.S. farm and ranch products. According to the USDA since the 1990s per capita meat consumption for beef and veal, pork, poultry and sheep has grown about 3 percent annually in developing and emerging economies. Taste preferences and diet patterns shift as incomes increase. Most of the gains in meat consumption are focused in developing countries, where the demand for meat is outpacing that of developed countries.

Based on data from the World Health Organization, meat consumption in developing countries is estimated to increase 44 percent by 2030. That represents a 25-pound-per-year increase per capita from 1999. The largest increases in meat consumption are estimated in South Asia, with a 121-percent jump predicted by 2030. Agricultural research and development is critical to the upward trajectory of U.S. agriculture. Continued investment in the stabilization of new markets in developing countries, as well as the development of technology for farmers and ranchers in the United States, is essential for the growth and future of farming. Investments in agricultural research are proven to provide consistently excellent rates of return. An estimated 32 percent of the investment in research by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center returns to U.S. agriculture. And that’s just one example. Investments in agricultural research have proven to be particularly impactful in developing countries, with robust agriculture sectors that provide a significant number of jobs. Therefore even small productivity gains create large ripples of prosperity throughout a developing economy. Those ripples tend to spill over to U.S. producers as the demand for quality proteins increases along with the country’s income levels.



American Agri-Women, Bayer announce ‘Gen Z Speaks Ag’ advocacy contest Those interested can either be in agriculture or have interest in related topics Austin Daily Herald

Generation Z is a group of powerful influencers — and here’s a chance for them to use that power to promote agriculture. American Agri-Women (AAW) along with Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announce the Gen Z Speaks Ag advocacy contest. The contest is part of AAW’s ongoing AgDay 365: Ag Day is Every Day Campaign. Young advocates, those between 11 and 23, can enter the contest, which runs through Sept. 30. The entrants can have an agriculture background or have an interest in related topics, such as food safety, food preparation, sustainability, etc. The contest includes three categories: photo, video and special events prizes range from $100 to $500. The winners will be an-



About American Agri-Women

American Agri-Women promotes the welfare of our national security through a safe and reliable food, fiber and energy supply. Since 1974, AAW members have worked together to educate consumers; advocate for agriculture; and offer networking and professional development opportunities. Go to the AAW web site for more information and to join, Find AAW on social media on Facebook (facebook. com/AgriWomen), Twitter (@Women4Ag), and Instagram (@americanagriwomen).

Bayer: Science For A Better Life

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen. In fiscal 2016, the Group employed around 115,200 people and had sales of EUR 46.8 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, R&D expenses to EUR 4.7 billion. These figures include those for the high-tech polymers business, which was floated on the stock market as an independent company named Covestro on Oct. 6, 2015.

nounced at AAW’s annual convention, set for Nov. 6-10 in Tigard, Oregon. AAW is a coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business women. Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of healthcare and agriculture. “We are so pleased to again showcase the talents of young advocates. We want to challenge them to speak out and show an authentic and positive view of agriculture. Their views are so important among their friends, classmates, families and communities,” said Jeanette Lombardo, president of AAW. Go to gen-z-speaks-ag/ for contest details. AgDay365 celebrates the fact that everyone is part of agriculture, every day and the contest encourages young advocates to make their voices count.


Apply for Beginning Farmer Tax Credit by Oct. 1 Incentives available for rent or sale of farm land and some assets Austin Daily Herald

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Rural Finance Authority reminds beginning farmers and asset owners to apply by Oct. 1 for the tax credit for the sale or lease of land, equipment, machinery and livestock.

To qualify, the applicant must be a Minnesota resident with the desire to start farming or who began farming within the past 10 years, provide projected earnings statements, have a net worth less than $836,000, and enroll in or have completed an approved financial management program. The farmer cannot be directly related to the person from whom he or she is buying or renting assets. The tax credit for the sale or lease of assets can then be applied to the Minnesota in-

come taxes of the owner of the farm land or agricultural assets. Three levels of credits are available: • Five percent of the lesser of the sale price or fair market value of the agricultural asset up to a maximum of $32,000 • 10 percent of the gross rental income of each of the first, second and third years of a rental agreement, up to a maximum of $7,000 per year • 15 percent of the cash equivalent of

the gross rental income in each of the first, second or third year of a share rent agreement, up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested farmers should note that they can also apply for a separate tax credit to offset the cost of a financial management program up to a maximum of $1,500 per year, for up to three years.

New study reveals majority of students have misconceptions about careers in agriculture Associated Press

Education and skills gaps have long been a challenge for the agriculture industry, as the demand for qualified candidates in agricultural science careers has significantly outpaced the pool of applicants with adequate training and education. Bayer, in collaboration with National 4-H Council, today released the results of the second annual Science Matters survey, which explores the opinions of parents, teachers and - new this year - students on


the importance of agri-science in high school curriculum. The 2019 survey confirmed that low awareness of career options in agriculture is a primary factor leading to the limited pool of skilled applicants. In fact, the survey found that although nearly 80 percent of surveyed high school students believe that agricultural science education is important to future success, only 19 percent reported that they are likely to consider a career in agriculture. One explanation for this disconnect

could be a lack of awareness of the diverse opportunities available within the agriculture industry. Only 36 percent of surveyed students reported being familiar with agriculture career choices beyond working on a farm, despite alternative and thriving occupations such as veterinary science, biotechnology, raising and training animals and forestry. “The 2019 Science Matters study shows a disconnect between students’ perceived value of agricultural science and their awareness of tangible, fulfilling and di-

verse career opportunities, which presents an enormous opportunity for the agricultural community,” said Lisa Safarian, President, North America Commercial, at the Crop Science Division of Bayer. “These survey results are a call to action for the industry to come together and invest in our youth, educating them and developing their skills in areas where it has been traditionally challenging to identify and recruit a qualified workforce, and highlight the success and impact they can have in a multitude of diverse careers.”



The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.

Restoring soil can help address climate change By David R. Montgomery The Conversation via Associated Press

A program for dairy producers that protects them when the difference between all-milk price and the average feed cost falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer has signed up nearly 17,000 operations. Metro Image

Nearly 17,000 dairy operations enrolled in Dairy Margin Coverage program Dairy producers must sign up before Sept. 20 for 2019 coverage Austin Daily Herald

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced earlier this month that producers of nearly 17,000 dairy operations have signed up for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program since signup opened June 17. Producers interested in 2019 coverage must sign up before Sept. 20, 2019. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. “We’re encouraged by the number of dairy producers who have signed up for this new program, but we are hopeful that we will get more folks in the door,” said Bill Northey, USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm



Wisconsin leads established histories As of Aug. 19, more than 60 percent of dairies with established production histories have enrolled in the program. States Wisconsin Minnesota New York Pennsylvania Michigan

Operations 4,832 1,865 1,779 1,511 702

Production and Conservation.“At this point in the signup process, we are well ahead of the number of producers covered at this time last year under the previous safety net program, with more producers enrolling every day. As we move into the homestretch, we expect more producers across the country to get coverage through DMC and

our team at FSA is really going above and beyond to make sure we get the word out there, the returns this year to-date should speak for themselves.” In June, when the DMC signup was announced, Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “For many smaller dairies, the choice is probably a no-brainer as the retroactive coverage through January has already assured them that the 2019 payments will exceed the required premiums.” USDA’s Farm Service Agency began issuing program payments to producers on July 11. DMC provides coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019. The producers who have signed up to date will receive more than $219.7 million in payments for January through June, when the income over feed cost margin was $8.63 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the sixth payment for eligible dairy producers who purchased the $9 and $9.50 levels of coverage under DMC.

It’s time to take soil seriously. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states with very high confidence in its latest report, land degradation represents “one of the biggest and most urgent challenges” that humanity faces. The report assesses potential impacts of climate change on food production and concludes that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will reduce crop yields and degrade the nutritional quality of food. To avert climate catastrophe, the report warns, people need to make changes in agriculture and land use. In other words, it’s no longer enough to wean society off of fossil fuels. Stabilizing the climate will also require removing carbon from the sky. Rethinking humanity’s relationship to the soil can help on both scores. Healthy, fertile soils are rich in organic matter built of carbon that living plants pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Carbon-rich organic matter helps fuel the soil organisms that recycle and release mineral elements that plants take back up as nutrients. But soils release carbon too. And the frequent tillage and heavy fertilizer use that underpin modern conventional agriculture have accelerated degradation of soil organic matter, sending more carbon skyward — a lot, it turns out. The new IPCC report concludes that globally, cropland soils have lost 20-60 percent of their original organic carbon content. North American farmland has lost about half of its natural endowment of soil carbon. On top of those losses, modern agriculture consumes a lot of fossil fuels to pull plows and manufacture the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers that farmers rely on to coax large harvests from degraded soils. Land management choices also affect the amount of carbon stored in trees, plants and soil. The new IPCC report estimates that serious changes in forestry and agriculture to curtail deforestation and improve soil management could reduce global emissions by 5 to 20 percent. While this won’t solve the climate problem, it would represent a significant down payment on a global solution. AUSTIN DAILY HERALD  AUTUMN AG

Minnesota groundwater protection rule regulations begin in 2020 Austin Daily Herald

The state’s new Groundwater Protection Rule (GPR) became effective this past June. The GPR will reduce the risk of nitrate from fertilizer impacting groundwater in areas of the state where soils are prone to leaching and where drinking water supplies are threatened. Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants in Minnesota's groundwater; elevated nitrate levels in drinking water can pose serious health concerns for humans. “Implementation of the Groundwater Protection Rule is a major milestone in protecting the state’s groundwater and ensuring all Minnesotans have safe drinking water,” said Governor Tim Walz. “I want to commend the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for their commitment to making Minnesota a leader in addressing nitrate contamination and for their collaborative approach with farmers in doing so. The MDA went above and beyond in their duty to gather public comments and respond to feedback as they developed these important regulations.” The Minnesota Department of Agriculture


(MDA) will oversee implementation of the rule. Beginning in 2020, use of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall and on frozen soils will be restricted in areas of the state with vulnerable groundwater, such as areas with coarse textured soil, shallow bedrock, or karst geology, and in public wellhead areas – known as Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs) – with elevated nitrate levels. The GPR outlines a multi-level approach involving local farmers and agronomists working to mitigate nitrate losses in DWSMAs with high nitrate in groundwater. Farmers in a DWSMA would be subject to four levels of mitigation which move from voluntary to regulatory. A local advisory team, consisting primarily of producers and agriculture professionals, will advise the MDA regarding appropriate response activities for the area and support implementation of these activities. The Groundwater Protection Rule is part of the state’s overall Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP) which was developed with broad stakeholder input over a five year period and implemented in 2015. More information on the rule and the NFMP is available at

Funds available to encourage urban agriculture Austin Daily Herald

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is taking applications for the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Urban Agriculture Grant. The MDA will award up to $300,000 to eligible applicants to encourage urban youth agricultural education and/or urban agriculture community development. In previous rounds of this highly competitive grant program, funds have gone to stimulate urban agriculture across Minnesota, from Saint Paul’s Eastside to Duluth and from Virginia to North Minneapolis. The MDA expects to award 50 percent of the available funds to projects located in or serving communities of

color or Native American tribal communities. Applicants may request a maximum of $50,000 per project, and up to 100 percent of the total project cost may be covered by the grant. Up to half of the award may be requested as an advance. For-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, schools, local government entities, and Native American tribal communities may be eligible to apply for this grant. Eligible project expenses include equipment purchases and physical improvements, and dedicated staff/contractor time. Proposals must be submitted prior to 4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14. Visit www.mda. for more information.



Amy Kyllo is the 66th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Photo provided

Minnesota dairy community crowns 66th Princess Kay of the Milky Way Austin Daily Herald

Amy Kyllo, a 19-year-old college student from Byron, representing Olmsted County, was crowned the 66th Princess Kay of the Milky Way in an evening ceremony at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Aug. 21. Kyllo will serve as the official goodwill ambassador for nearly 3,000 Minnesota dairy farm families. She is the daughter of Paul and Susan Kyllo and attends the Association Free Lutheran Bible School. Ten county dairy princesses from throughout Minnesota competed for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way title. Elizabeth Krienke, of Les-



ter Praire, representing McLeod County, and Brittney Tiede of Le Center, representing Le Sueur County, were selected as runners-up. Rachel Paskewitz of Browerville, representing Todd County, Grace Jeurissen and Elizabeth Krienke, both of Lester Prairie and representing McLeod County, were named scholarship winners. Kyllo was also named Miss Congeniality. Throughout her yearlong reign, Kyllo will make public appearances to help connect consumers to Minnesota’s dairy farm families. She will work to bring dairy to life through conversations, classroom visits and various speaking engagements.


SEPTEMBER 17 - 22, 2019 SEPT 28 - OCT 9, 2019 OCTOBER 5 - 11, 2019

$999 $1949 $1199


NOVEMBER 7 - 10, 2019



NOVEMBER 14 - 17, 2019



NOVEMBER 21 - 24, 2019






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