Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock - October 2018

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Ag Water stewardship

October 2018

Applications open for 2019 livestock investment grants

The AGRI Livestock Investment Grant program is now accepting applications. The grant encourages long-term industry development for Minnesota livestock farmers and ranchers by helping them improve, update, and modernize their livestock operation’s infrastructure and equipment. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) anticipates up to $2 million in competitively awarded grant awards. Funding for the grants was established through the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Program to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries.

The grant is intended to promote economic growth as well as environmentally sound practices in Minnesota’s $7 billion livestock industry. The program encourages new farmers and generational transitions in order to sustain the livestock industry in the state.

“The Livestock Investment Grant will benefit farmers and ranchers all over the state,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Whitney Place. “Minnesota livestock producers are some of the most innovative in the country. The goal of these grants is to invest in that innovation by improving production facilities that can help sustain profitability of the next generation of livestock producers.“

Livestock farmers with operations in Minnesota may apply for funding. Funding under this round will have a maximum of $25,000 per project. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15. The online application is available at the AGRI Livestock Investment websiteFor more information about the grant, visit the AGRI Livestock Investment Grant webpage or contact Michael Greene at

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Stoney Brook Farms is 600th Water Quality Certified farm

stoney brook farm

Stoney Brook Farms, Inc. is a family farm in Foley and the 600th water quality certified farm. They grow sweet corn, pumpkins, squash, peas, green beans, and fall decorative items such as indian corn and gourds. They have also started hosting Harvest Fun Days with a pumpkin patch and a corn maze. Stoney Brook Farms has taken an innovative approach to managing their farm, with a focus on water quality and soil health practices. Some examples of their practices include no-till planting, residue management, cover crops, and crop diversity. Check out Benton County SWCD's full article for more information. Photo left to right: Brad and Mark Chmielewski of Stoney Brook Farms, Inc.  accepting their MN Water Quality Certified Farm sign from Benton SWCD Technician Casey Gwost. - MAWQCP Insider newsletter.

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Clean Water Partnership program offers 0% interest loans

Cities and other government entities can borrow up to $2 million with 0% interest to address non-point source pollution through the Clean Water Partnership program. Loan payback may extend 10 years.

Eligible projects include:

  • Buffers: purchase of native seeds and vegetation
  • Septic system upgrades and replacement
  • Technical assistance, outreach, and education
  • Equipment such as conservation tillage equipment
  • Any nonpoint source BMP
  • Feedlot upgrades and replacement  

Project sponsors can use the loans to implement projects directly or to set up a loan fund for landowners and other stakeholders. Government entities may apply to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) at any time. See the program webpage for more information, or contact: 

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Open for comment: Rules on water body beneficial uses

The MPCA is requesting comment on amendments to Minnesota Rules chapter 7050, which establish designated uses for rivers, streams, and lakes. The request for comments was published in the Sept. 24 State Register, and the public comment period is open through 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 8.

The notice of request for comments in on the MPCA Public Notice Webpage (scroll down to the Sept. 24 date). Information about the MPCA’s proposed amendments is available on the rulemaking webpage.

What the rule amendments are about:

The proposed amendments affect Class 2 (Aquatic Life) and Class 7 (Limited Resource Value Waters) designations. Minnesota’s surface waters are currently assigned, or designated, a number of possible beneficial uses, such as drinking water, aquatic life, and recreation like fishing and swimming. These designations are the current or expected beneficial uses that should be attained in those waters. Different physical and chemical criteria – for water quality standards – apply depending on the beneficial uses that need to be protected in each water.

The MPCA routinely reviews use designations to ensure that assigned beneficial uses are protective and attainable as defined by the Clean Water Act and Minnesota Rule. As the result of routine monitoring and stakeholder requests, the MPCA has identified waters where the current designated beneficial use does not accurately reflect an attainable use. The designated beneficial use for each water body must be correct and appropriate because the designated use affects many water quality protection and restoration efforts such as assessment, stressor identification, National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting, and Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies.

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Society for Range Management convention here Feb. 10-14

SRM logo

In what is believed a first for Minnesota, the Society for Range Management annual meeting will be Feb. 10-14 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Typically the conference takes place in one of the western states. This convention draws livestock producers, agency personnel, university researchers and private consultants from across the U.S. and beyond to learn about and discuss principles of range management. Established in 1948, SRM has more than 4,000 members in 48 countries. It is the professional scientific society and conservation organization whose members are concerned with studying, conserving, managing and sustaining the varied resources of the rangelands, which comprise nearly half the land in the world.

At the Minnesota convention the Sustainable Farming Association will run a special soil health workshop in conjunction with the conference. This will draw not only the regular SRM attendees but will also appeal to farmers interested in soil health and regenerative agriculture. Workshops and symposiums will address numerous topics including: Grassland restoration, new grazing strategies, invasive species, riparian ecosystems, and rangeland social science. Industry vendors will have exhibits at a trade show Feb. 11-12. This will be the SRM's 72nd international meeting, technical training, and trade show.

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News briefs

New runoff risk tool determines best manure application timing

The Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture in partnership with the National Weather Service has designed  a new tool for those applying manure in Minnesota called the Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast. The interactive map is designed to help farmers and custom manure applicators decide on the optimal time to apply manure by predicting or modeling when runoff events are likely to happen. As a bonus, the tool also provides forecasted precipitation amounts, as well as soil temperatures at 2 and 6 inches of depth to help with manure application decisions. Click here to read more:  Minnesota Crop News Blog.

Cover crops following sweet corn and processing peas

In 2017, Minnesota ranked #1 in the U.S. for both processing sweet corn and pea production with more than 120,000 acres of sweet corn and 49,000 acres of peas planted. Both of these crops have a relatively short growing season as they are harvested at an immature stage of growth and then processed for canned or frozen vegetables. For peas planted early, a second crop of soybean is often planted for a double crop during that season. For sweet corn and later planted peas, there is not enough growing season left to plant and harvest a second cash crop; however, there is ample opportunity to plant and establish a cover crop that can stabilize the soil and take up residual nutrients from pea or sweet corn residue. In most situations, manure applications to cropland during the months of June, July, or August require a crop to be grown on the field until the end of the growing season. Click here to read more: - Minnesota Crop News Blog.

New leadership named at Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson announced new appointments to his leadership team. Frederickson named Andrea Vaubel as the agency’s Deputy Commissioner. Vaubel has served as Assistant Commissioner at the department since 2016 and has worked in the Commissioner’s office since 2013. Frederickson also named Whitney Place to serve as Assistant Commissioner to oversee the Ag Marketing and Development and Plant Protection Divisions. Policy Specialist Craig McDonnell has been promoted to the position of Director of Government Relations. The new appointments went into effect immediately. 

Erica Sawatzke appointed to Board of Animal Health

Governor Dayton recently appointed Erica Sawatzke to an open livestock producer position on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Erica owns a sixth generation turkey breeder farm with her husband in Farwell. She previously worked for the Minnesota Turkey Grower's Association on their communications team. Erica attended her first quarterly Board meeting  Sept. 19. Her appointment will expire Jan. 3, 2022.

We Are Water traveling exhibit launches Oct. 12 in St. Paul

The We Are Water MN Traveling Exhibit is kicking off its 2018-2019 statewide tor on Oct. 12 at the University of Minnesota - St. Paul. We Are Water MN explores the connections between the humanities and water through an exhibit, public events and educator resources. The 2018-2019 tour will feature the stories of two Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program certified producers and how they manage water quality on their farms. Check out the tour schedule and mark your calendar!

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In the news

Public questions Lake City dairy expansion
Rochester Post-Bulletin, 9/19/18
Study examines ag retailer challenges with cover crops
Wallaces Farmer, 9/24/18
Perschbacher Hog Farm proposes expansion
KTTC-TV, 9/25/18
Winona County dairy farm proposes major expansion; public hearing set for Oct. 16
LaCrosse Tribune, 10/2/1
Gustavus conference focuses on future of soil in sustaining life
MPR, 10/2/18

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Nov. 27-29: Minnesota Dairy Expo, Treasure Island Resort and Casino, Welch.
Dec. 7-8: Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association convention, Arrowwood Resort, Alexandria.
Dec. 9-11: Minnesota Association of SWCDs convention, DoubleTree, Bloomington.
Jan. 23-24: Minnesota Ag Expo, Verizon Center, Mankato.
Feb. 5-6: Minnesota Pork Congress, Minneapolis Convention Center.
Feb. 6-7: Minnesota Independent Crop Consultants Association annual conference, Crow River Winery, Hutchinson.
Feb. 10-14: Society for Range Management annual meeting, Minneapolis Convention Center.

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The MPCA Feedlot Update welcomes news from partners about, projects, people, and upcoming events. Email submissions to Past issues of Feedlot Update are available on the feedlot program publications webpage.