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COL Ag Expo is Jan. 13-14 in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Corn Growers Association will present its annual Minnesota Ag Expo Jan. 13-14 in the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.

The event begins with a trade show and the association's annual meeting and resolutions session. Both days offer breakout sessions that will focus on new corn research, a legislative update, supporting animal agriculture, the workings of the judicial system, new ethanol co-products and a gourmet cooking demonstration.

Sen. Norm Coleman will deliver a luncheon address Tuesday and Sen. Mark Dayton has also been invited to speak. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency commissioner Sheryl Corrigan will address EXPO-banquet-goers.

Former U.S. ag secretary John Block will provide the keynote address during the Corn Awards Luncheon.

For more information call the MCGA at (952) 233-0333.

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Animal ag conference planned in Willmar

WILLMAR, Minn. -- An Animal Agriculture Conference is planned Jan. 8 in the Willmar Holiday Inn. The event is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council and 14 agricultural and local government groups.

The event will run from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. with lunch provided. Registration is $30 in advance and $40 at the door. Checks should be made out to "Economic Development Partnership'' and sent to Box 1783, Willmar, MN 56201.

Congressman Collin Peterson will address the conference. University of Minnesota economist Brian Buhr will talk about the importance of animal agriculture to the state's economy. Buhr will also discuss in detail the results of the economic study commissioned by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council.

The program will also include a panel discussion by township officers regarding the process of locating livestock facilities in rural areas and from farmers who have been involved in recent building projects.

For more information, call (320) 214-7475.

Farmers Union Marketing receives $500,000 grant

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. -- The Farmers Union Marketing &; Processing Association in Redwood Falls has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for operation of a proposed 2.8 million gallon per-year continuous flow biodiesel processing facility.

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The facility will use animal fats and vegetable oils from its livestock rendering operation.

The facility will be located adjacent to a current production facility, which will allow sharing of administrative costs and environmental, health and safety concerns.

The cooperative's focus is on rendering, restaurant grease collection and providing value-added poultry byproducts to the pet food industry.

Zone tillage focus of Feb. 4 conference

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa -- Zone tillage will be the focus of the Feb. 4 Midwest Ridge and Strip Till Conference in the Arrowwood Conference Center in Spirt Lake.

The event is scheduled from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

"If you arrive early you can participate in an informal roundtable and learn from others,'' said George Rehm, University of Minnesota Extension soils specialist.

Zone tillage has been a hot topic in the northern and western Corn Belt for the past year or so, Rehm said. In addition to zone tillage, concurrent sessions will focus on fertilization, weed management and new developments in equipment.

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For more information, call Rehm at (612) 625-6210.

G.E.F. Gourmet links with Amazon

MOUNTAIN LAKE, Minn. -- G.E.F. Gourmet Foods of Mountain Lake has partnered with Amazon.com to launch a new Gourmet Food store. Gourmet Foods brand products include the GLAD CORN brand A-Maizing Corn Snacks.

"This venue is a great opportunity for a widespread blast of exposure for a small, farm-related family-owned business like ours,'' said Gladys Friesen, president of G.E.F.

For more details, visit www.amazon.corn/gourmetfood.

Regional health care center set for Willmar

WILLMAR, Minn. -- The University of Minnesota's decision to headquarter a new regional health care center here has city officials hoping to persuade young medical professionals there's a reason to work in rural towns.

Beating out Mankato, Marshall and Montevideo, Willmar was designated last ewek as host of an Area Health Education Center, which will help care for people in 25 southwestern Minnesota counties.

"It's a very big bonus to get students out here and see what we have to offer," said Dr. Kathryn Nelson, a physician with Affiliated Community Medical Centers and member of the committee which lobbied to land the facility.

Rural towns often struggle to attract health care professionals -- and as the work force ages, the shortages may become more acute, Nelson said.

The first year of operation will focus mostly on planning, and comes with a $158,000 budget.

Soybean varietial trials on Internet

ST. PAUL -- The results of the 2003 Minnesota soybean variety trials have been posted on a University of Minnesota web site at http://www.soybeans.umn.edu. Check with your local Extension office if you don't have Internet access.

"Variety trial results are a valuable decision-making tool when you're choosing varieties,'' said Seth Naeve, Extension agronomist. "Choosing a variety is one of the most important decisions soybean producers make.''

The variety trails are listed for the northern, central and southern Minnesota zones. Results include performance and characteristics of soybean nematode infested and non-infested sites.

Willmar Meals on Wheels in jeopardy

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A state-mandated reduction in prices that can be charged for Meals on Wheels food is putting a crunch on West Central Industries, which feeds about 90 people in Kandiyohi County.

The company is currently providing the service at $3.22 per meal, which includes a 1 percent reduction imposed last July.

Larry Kleindl, director of the Kandiyohi County Family Services Department, said the state maximum rate is $5.81 per meal, and the average within the region is $5.54 per meal. He's requested that the state allow the WCI rate to be set at $4 per meal.

Kleindl said WCI is "barely breaking even," and may be forced to discontinue Meals on Wheels service without the rate adjustment.

MAELC receives national awards

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council has received national awards.

The National Association of Agricultural Educators and the Association of Career and Technical Educators met collaboratively at conferences in Orlando, Fla.

Patrick Plonski, former MAELC executive director, received the Outstanding Cooperation Award from NAAE. Cliff Vrieze, farm business management instructor at Minnesota West College in Jackson, was recognized as the ACTE Teacher of the Year for 2003.

John Murray, state director for Farm and Small Business Management, received the Region 3 Outstanding Career and Technical Educator at the ACTE conference. John Hobert, Farm Business Management instructor at Riverland College in Kenyon received the Region 3 Outstanding Teacher Mentor Award from NAAE.

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