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col Pilot program off to good start

NEW LONDON, Minn. -- A Pheasants Forever pilot program designed to produce more wildlife habitat in Minnesota by increasing enrollment of Conservation Reserve Program acres is off to a good start.

The Minnesota Continuous CRP Initiative provides dollars for local Soil &; Water Conservation Districts to hire part-time personnel to assist in marketing and enrolling landowners into CCRP practices. To date, 28 counties are participating in the matching grant program, which has resulted in over 4,200 acres of habitat for wildlife.

Statewide partners contributing include Pheasants Forever, the Minnesota Board of Water &; Soil Resources, Minnesota DNR, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The USDA Farm Service Agency and the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts also support this effort.

MCP may sell to Archer Daniels

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MARSHALL, Minn. -- Minnesota Corn Processors Inc. is in preliminary discussions with Archer Daniels Midland Company to sell itself to ADM.

MCP's board of directors has hired the investment banking firms of Morgan Lewis Githens &; Ahn and ING Capital LLC to serve as financial advisors to assist in the transaction. MCP's board of directors, shareholders and regulatory agencies must approve any sale.

MCP is a corn wet-miller with refineries in Marshall and Columbus, Neb. The company produces corn sweeteners and starch products for sale to beverage and food industries. It owns and operates a nationwide network of 19 corn sweetener distribution terminals.

Alfalfa Harvest Program begins

ST. PAUL -- The Extension Service and the Minnesota Forage and Grassland Council are co-sponsoring a statewide Alfalfa Harvest Alert Program again this year.

The program was implemented several years ago using scissors cutting to monitor first-crop alfalfa quality across the state. Samples are taken from throughout a field, mixed together and sent to a forage laboratory for nutrient analysis.

The program helps dairy producers determine when it is time to cut to obtain the hay quality desired for dairy operations.

Another method is the Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality method, better known as PEAQ. A PEAQ stick provides producers the opportunity to sample fields as often as they want. PEAQ sticks are available from the MFGC for $10, plus $3 for shipping. Order by telephone at (651) 436-3930.

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Conservation provision in trouble

ST. PAUL -- A bill that would let voters decide whether part of the state sales tax should go toward conservation and environmental programs stumbled last week in a House Committee.

The bill would have generated about $115 million a year for parks, wildlife, trails and zoos.

Sponsors backed off after Rep. Phyllis Kahn introduced an amendment in the State Government Finance Committee that would have let voters also decide on dedicating the same amount of money for education.

"The point is at least let's give voters a choice of what they think is the most important thing to dedicate funds to," the Minneapolis DFLer said.

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, however, said the measure still had a chance to pass the House. The Kenyon Republican said he'll consider a variety of parliamentary moves to move the bill forward.

Currently, about $25 million in state lottery proceeds goes to the DNR for similar purposes.

Rural Summit is June 23-25 in Duluth

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DULUTH, Minn. -- The Minnesota Rural Summit, an annual event focusing on rural community and economic development, this year will explore the relationship between health care and economic health in rural communities.

The summit is scheduled June 23-25. The event will address the impact of rural health care on the economic vitality and survival of communities.

Participants will examine ways of strengthening the health care work force, preparing for aging communities, capitalizing on new technologies and welcoming diversity into communities.

For more information, telephone John Fischer at (651) 282-6791.

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