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Farmers with small feedlots may get waiver

ST. PAUL — Farmers with small livestock operations who have signed an agreement to have their feedlots in compliance with environmental rules by October 2010 may be eligible for a waiver from possible enforcement if they don’t meet the deadline.

The Open Lot Agreement Program was established in October 2000 to help producers reduce and eliminate the amount of runoff pollution from feedlots. Producers with fewer than 300 animal units had the opportunity to sign an Open Lot Agreement, which committed them to seek cost-share assistance and make corrective measures in phases over a 10-year period.

State officials say that due to limited availability of cost-share funding, producers who signed an OLA and continue to seek cost-share until it is available will be eligible for a conditional waiver from enforcement of the rules by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Producers who signed an OLA and haven’t applied for cost-share must do so before Oct. 1 to be eligible for the waiver.

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Livestock producers are advised to talk with their county feedlot officer, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, their local SWCD or the MPCA regarding their feedlot compliance.

Pork Quality training offered in Windom, Rochester

WINDOM, Minn. — A Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance training event will be held Aug. 25 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in the Community Center in Windom.

An additional training session is planned Aug. 11 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in Room HA 104 in the Heintz Center, Rochester.

Pre-registration is strongly recommended and can be done by calling the Minnesota Pork Board office at 1-800-537-7675.

Minnesota Garlic Festival is Aug. 15

HUTCHINSON, Minn. — The 4th annual Minnesota Garlic Festival will be held Aug. 15 on the McLeod County fairgrounds in Hutchinson. The show will run from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Sponsored by the Crow River Sustainable Farming Chapter, the event will include celebrity chefs demonstrating specialty garlic fare, entertainment and much more.

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The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children under age three.

Group considers appeal over transmission lines

ST. PAUL — A citizens group says it’s considering legal action after Minnesota regulators declined to reconsider approval of a power line project that will touch four different states.

The Citizens Energy Task Force opposes the CapX2020 transmission line project, which eleven utilities plan to build in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on July 14 declined to rehear the case, making way for a possible appeal.

Also Tuesday, the PUC modified its requirement that the Brookings line from eastern South Dakota to the Twin Cities area carry wind energy and other renewables. The PUC allowed a way for the utilities to sidestep that if they demonstrate that meeting the rules isn’t practical or isn’t in customers’ best interest.

Extension sponsoring August dairy tours

LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Extension Service is sponsoring dairy tours on three farms during August. All the dairy tours begin at 10 a.m.

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A tour will be held Aug. 5 on the Rinde Dairy farm located 6.5 miles northeast of Long Prairie on Todd County Road 25. The Rinde farm features a low-cost double-8 swing parlor installed in a tie-stall barn.

On Aug. 12, a tour will be held on the Dave and Kathy Scapanski farm northeast of Sauk Rapids. They have new free-stall and bedding-pack barns, and a double-16 swing parlor installed in a tie-stall barn.

The final tour will be held Aug. 21 on the Greg and Michelle Blaine Dairy Farm on Highway 27. The farm is located 16 miles east of Long Prairie. The highlight is a recently installed Lely Robot Milker system.

Pre-register by calling the Todd County Extension office at (320) 732-4435.

Dairy expansion east of Willmar gets approval

WILLMAR, Minn. — A 260-head expansion of a dairy operation east of Willmar was unanimously approved by the Kandiyohi County Planning Commission.

The conditional use permit now goes before the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

The expansion at the Robert Larson farm involves an increase in the number of animals that will be raised on the farm, but does not include construction of new facilities.

The farm will increase the number of animals from 699 head to 960 head. They raise dairy heifers and calves in partial confinement barns and open lots.

AgStar Fund donates $5,000 to Watonwan library

ST. JAMES, Minn. — The AgStar Fund for Rural America has awarded $5,000 to the Watonwan County Library. The grant will be used to purchase four computers, software and a printer for the library’s technology lab.

"Access to technology is vital for rural communities an AgStar is proud to award this grant to Watonwan County,’’ said Judy Bloemke, fund administrator for AgStar. "This library serves all the county residents and we’re excited about to help provide funding so they can offer these much-needed resources.’’

Ag in the Classroom seeks new board members

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation is seeking new board members.

The foundation wants to fill five open seats on its board of directors’ team. Directors are charged with advising the MAITC program and also for securing funds for the MAITC Foundation.

Directors meet quarterly in addition to the annual meeting and orientation retreat. Terms are for two years and are renewable for up to three times.

For more information, contact Emily Zweber at (651) 341-0430.

For directors elected at Farmamerica meeting

WASECA, Minn. — Four directors were elected at the 2009 annual meeting of Farmamerica, Minnesota’s Agricultural Interpretive Center.

Board members who were elected to three-year terms included new board member Mike Budach of Owatonna. Returned board members include Greg Bartz, Sleepy Eye; Kathy Gessner, Janesville; and Tom Hagerty, St. Michael.

Jim Tippy, who served on the board for seven years, retired from the board and Greg Gosen of Albert Lea was elected to replace him.

The officer slate for 2009 include Ed Frederick, Waseca, chairman; Roy Johnson, Minnetonka, vice chairman; Linda Brekke, Owatonna, secretary; and Vic Richardson, Owatonna, treasurer.

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