Farmers Union applauds ditch mowing legislation signature

The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) today applauded the signature of Senate File 218 by Governor Mark Dayton that implements a moratorium on the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) in enforcing permit requirements for mowing and baling in right of way on trunk highways, except for land that adjoins state land, until April 30th, 2018.

MFU had raised concerns with the new permit system MNDOT had announced in December of 2016. Many farmers saw it as unnecessary, confusing and burdensome.

mowing ditches moratorium

Farmers mowing and baling ditches will continue as is for the next year, thanks to legislation signed by Governor Dayton placing a moratorium on a MN-DOT plan to require permits to mow rights-of-ways next to roads.

“Mowing roadsides has been an important source of forage for farmers, controls weeds, and it improves visibility on highways” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “The legislation will give all parties a chance to get together and address issues and MFU encourages farmers to pay attention to this issue over the interim.

“Make sure to be involved in making your voices heard on this issue” added Wertish.

Under the legislation, MNDOT will recommend to the legislative committees with jurisdiction over transportation, agriculture, and natural resources, that there be an establishment of a permit or notification system to mow or hay in a trunk highway right-of-way. The recommendation must be developed with input from agriculture and environmental groups. The recommendation must contain at least the following elements:

(1) ease of permit application or notification;

(2) frequency of permits or notifications;

(3) priority given to the owner or occupant of private land adjacent to a trunk highway right-of-way;

(4) determination of authority to mow or hay in trunk highway right-of-way in which adjacent land is under the jurisdiction of the state or a political subdivision; and

(5) recognition of the differences in the abundance of wildlife habitat based on geographic distribution throughout the state.

MFU thanks Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) and Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) for their work as chief authors of this legislation.

Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Fighting for Farmers (www.mfu.org).

‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam Calls hit MN

can you hear me now phone scam

The ‘can you hear me now’ term isn’t just for cell phone commercials. It’s a part of the latest telephone scam hitting MN. If the first thing you hear is a question similar to this, hang up. (Photo from thebalance.com)

“Can you hear me?” “Are you there?” “Is this you?” Most people have been asked these questions in a phone call. News outlets and organizations across the country report that people are receiving calls from individuals who ask questions designed to get a “yes” answer.  But responding “yes” may leave people on the hook for more nuisance calls and maybe even unauthorized charges.  This new scheme is called the “Can You Hear Me?” Scam. “Chris” received a call while he was eating dinner. He answered the call, and a person asked, “Can you hear me?” Chris replied, “Yes.”  He then heard a recording that claimed he had won a free cruise. Chris realized the call may be part of a scam and hung up.

How the scam works

The details of this scam vary, but it always begins with a call, usually from a telephone number that appears to be local. When the person answers the call, the scam artist tries to get the person to say “yes”—most often by asking, “Can you hear me?” “Is this the lady of the house?” or a similar question. By responding “yes,” people notify robo-callers that their number is an active telephone number that can be sold to other telemarketers for a higher price. This then leads to more unwanted calls.

In some cases, the caller may record the person saying “yes.” Scam artists may be able to use a recorded “yes” to claim that the person authorized charges to his or her credit card or account. How can scammers access your account?  Some companies share their customers’ information with third-party companies or allow third parties to charge customers’ accounts (called “cramming”) in exchange for payment. Scam artists may also obtain financial information from data breaches or leaks or through identity theft.

Whether the “Can you hear me?” calls are simply nuisance calls or something more sinister, there are steps you can take to avoid falling victim to phone scams.

  • Check phone numbers closely. Scam artists spoof calls to make them appear to be from a local telephone number. Even if a number appears to be local, it is best to avoid calls from numbers with which you are not familiar.

 

  • Hang up. If you answer a call that seems suspicious, hang up. Remember, “Minnesota Nice” does not apply to scammers. It is not rude to hang up abruptly on a suspicious caller.

 

  • Carefully review your financial statements and telephone bills. Whether or not you have been targeted by a scam, it is a good idea to review your bills line-by-line for unauthorized or fraudulent activity. The law provides some protection for people to dispute unauthorized charges to their credit cards and bank accounts, but these laws generally impose time limits. It is important to check right away for charges you did not make or approve so you have time to file a dispute.

Reporting unwanted calls

If you receive a call that may be part of a “Can You Hear Me?” scam, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). The FTC has the authority to enforce federal laws regulating nuisance calls and interstate fraud over the telephone. Contact the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 877-382-4357 or www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

For more information, or to file a complaint, contact the Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400, St. Paul, MN 55101, 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787, TTY: 651-297-7206 or 800-366-4812

http://www.presspubs.com/quad/opinion/article_3c3888f2-196d-11e7-8b0e-4700503757c6.html

 

Here’s how you handle a phone scammer: If you state obvious falsehoods and they don’t call you on it, they’re scammers. Hang up the phone. Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings. Yes, I realize it’s a bit of a spoof video, so I’d encourage you to just hang up if you didn’t initiate the phone call.

Vikings GM looks to future at NFL Combine

The annual meat market that is the NFL combine is underway in Indianapolis. The next generation of NFL stars will be poked, prodded, tested, and questioned as teams try to figure out who is draft worthy and who isn’t. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman held a press conference on Wednesday in Indy and covered a wide range of topics. As you may imagine, Adrian Peterson was a hot topic, but Spielman also covered Sam Bradford, the recovering Teddy Bridgewater, and the NFL Draft.

You have to admire Spielman being forthright and dealing with the team’s free-fall from a 5-0 “we’re Super Bowl contenders” start to an 8-8 finish. Spielman and the rest of the Vikings brain trust got to work when the offseason began looking at where the Purple will go from here.

“I and especially Coach (Mike) Zimmer are never going to look for excuses on what happened,” Spielman said in opening remarks to the media. We ended up 8-8 and, from our standards, that’s not good enough for our organization.”

NFL Combine Vikings

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman spoke to reporters at the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis, covering a wide range of topics as he looked to next season and the future of the Vikings. (photo from Pioneer Press YouTube page)

They’ve spent the past three to four weeks meeting with scouts and coaches analyzing everything they do. They’ve gotten together as a group regarding their team, potential free agents, and on the draft.

“We have a pretty good sense of what we need to do to try to improve our ball club from where we were last year,” Spielman said, “and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

At that point, he opened it up to questions from the media in attendance. The first question was on Sam Bradford’s performance in his first year as Vikings quarterback. Spielman admitted at that point he lost a $1 bet that the first question would involve the team’s decision to decline the $18 million option on running back Adrian Peterson.

Here are some of the highlights from the presser this week in Indy.

MN Farmers Union applauds passage of Rural Finance Authority Legislation

Rural Finance Authority

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is shown here signing legislation to fund the Rural Finance Authority, a vital tool to helping farmers get access to the credit they need every year to produce their commodities. (photo contributed by MFU)

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) applauds the signing today by Governor Mark Dayton of legislation to fund the Rural Finance Authority (RFA). The RFA is a vital tool that helps farmers secure funding for various types of loans, including restructured loans, beginning farmers, and farm improvement loans.

MFU appreciates the efforts of the chief authors Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) and Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) as well as many legislators from both sides of the aisle. MFU is pleased that so many state legislators recognized the need to expedite funding for the RFA, which has lacked funding since December 31st, 2016. That has left the RFA unable to process loans.

Rural Finance Authority

Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish talks about the reauthorization of funding for the Rural Finance Authority, signed into law by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. (contributed photo from MFU)

MFU President Gary Wertish, also a member of the RFA Board, says “This legislation comes at an important time when farmers are making decisions for the 2017 planting season. This legislation gives farmers a good option to access credit.”

The RFA partners with local banks in lending on the programs they have.
MFU encourages farmers to take another look at the RFA (which is run by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture) and its menu of loans now that the bill has passed. The information can be found at: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/agfinance or by calling 651-201-6556.

Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Fighting for Farmers (www.mfu.org).

Wertish elected MN Farmers Union President

Gary Wertish, MN Farmers Union PresidentCongratulations to Renville County, Minnesota farmers Gary Wertish, just elected as the new President of the Minnesota Farmers Union. A well-deserved honor. I spent several years as Farm Director at KLGR radio in Redwood Falls and saw on a first-hand basis that Gary tirelessly worked for farmers. He’ll do a fantastic job as the new President, taking over for the retired Doug Peterson.

Gary Wertish, MN Farmers Union President

Gary Wertish was elected as the new Minnesota Farmers Union President during a special election on Saturday, January 21. He replaces the recently retired Doug Peterson as the head of the organization. (photo from myklgr.com)

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held a special election on Saturday, January 21, 2017 to elect a new President.

Former MFU Vice President, Gary Wertish was elected by Minnesota Farmers Union board members on Saturday to be the 10th President of Minnesota Farmers Union.

Gary has served as the Vice President of Minnesota Farmers Union since 2009, and has filled in as interim President since Peterson’s retirement.
Prior to being elected as Vice President, Gary had worked as a field representative for Farmers Union. Gary has also worked for then-Senator Mark Dayton as his Agricultural Director. He farms with one of his sons, raising corn, soybeans, and navy beans.

“Today marks a new era within the Farmers Union organization. Being elected as the new President is humbling” remarked Gary Wertish “I look forward to continue working with entire Farmers Union membership, along with other agricultural groups to enhance the economic interests of a struggling rural economy, which is just as important now as it ever has been. We will work to keep our momentum flowing and to bring new ideas to the table that will help us reach new goals within the organization, and to continue fighting and representing family farmers.”
Gary is married to his wife, Jeanne; together they have four children and live in Renville, MN.

SE Minnesota harvest results strong despite challenges

Crop harvest results

Michael Cruse is the University of Minnesota Extension Educator in Houston and Fillmore County of southeast Minnesota, who said crop harvest results were very good in spite of big challenges. (photo from umn.edu)

People who work in agriculture are resilient by nature. They have to be. They risk so much personally in the midst of circumstances that are completely out of their immediate control. For example, you can’t control the weather. Next time a tornado is threatening to wipe our your livelihood, try to turn it off. Let me know how that works out.

Folks off-the-farm have no idea just how much money a farmer has to borrow every year just for the sake of running his or her operation. The amount of money would shock most people. The crop isn’t even in the ground at the point.

Swarms of pests, either above or below ground, can wipe out a whole season’s worth of work. Violent windstorms were very hard on the wheat stands in southeast Minnesota this year. Early season frost forced some farmers to replant their crops earlier this spring. Rain just kept coming, usually at the worst times. Farmers typically wait for the forecast to show several dry days before they knock down alfalfa. However, the rainfall didn’t always follow the predictions accurately. Alfalfa got rained on, sometimes a whole lot.

However, southeast Minnesota farmers pulled in a very good crop again this season after all was said and done. While results are never 100 percent across the board, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa yields were excellent.

I spoke with Michael Cruse, the University of Minnesota Extension Service Educator in Houston and Fillmore counties, about harvest in the area. While the final numbers are not in yet, all indications are that things went extremely well. Give a listen here on chadsmithmedia.com:

 

State Climatologist talks southeast MN weather

The weather throughout fall and during the transition to winter can only be described as interesting. It’s been awhile since I was doing play-by-play for a high school football game during early November and actually had to take my winter jacket off because the press box was actually quite comfortable. I would imagine outside chores have been much less taxing during the nice fall weather too.

Conditions are going to change at some point. We know that here in southeast Minnesota. Colder weather and snow will be coming starting next week, but the question is how cold and how much?

State Climatologist Mark Seeley talks southeast Minnesota weather

Mark Seeley is a climatologist with the University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil, Water, and Climate. (photo from mprnews.org)

Mark Seeley of the University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water, and Climate. He’s a professor, a climatologist, and the main guy Minnesota media has turned to with weather questions for decades. I first met Mark while at KLGR radio in Redwood Falls. He was at the annual Farmfest event down the road near Morgan, Minnesota, and a fellow broadcaster said I needed to talk to Mark if I wanted to do a weather segment.

My most recent weather assignment comes from my freelance reporting job with Bluff Country News Group. We wanted to know what the upcoming winter would look like so I gave Mark a call and had a visit. The 2016 calendar year weather conditions in southeast Minnesota have been record-setting, with too much heat and moisture. I wanted to know how much heat and moisture have hit the area and this is what Mark had to say:

MN DNR Releases Updated Buffer Map

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) released the updated Minnesota buffer map this month. The update is based on comments and change requests from landowners and drainage authorities in order to ensure the map accurately shows where buffers are needed.

Buffer map update released

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released its most up to date buffer map. The DNR has also updated its buffer application as well. (photo from bwsr.state.mn.us)

645 changes were made in the most recent update. Since the preliminary buffer map was released in March 2016, the MN DNR has received more than 3,400 comments or change requests and has made nearly 2,100 map updates.

We strongly suggest members to view the interactive map found at the link provided below. This interactive map allows you to find specific buffer requirements for waterways in precise areas. To suggest a correction to the buffer map, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). SWCDs are able to work directly with landowners on these issues. The next updated Minnesota buffer map is set to be released in early 2017.

The MN DNR has also updated the buffer map application. The application is a web-based mapping tool for soil and water conservation districts, drainage authorities and local governments to review the buffer map, suggest corrections and see MN DNR review decisions. The updated application provides soil and water conservation districts and drainage authorities with an easy way to submit map change requests and other comments.

Here is the link:

http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/

This is an overview of the Minnesota buffer law if you’re looking for a refresher on the topic.

Chronic Wasting Disease confirmed near Lanesboro

DNR initiates disease response plan; offers hunters information on field dressing

Test results show two deer harvested by hunters in southeastern Minnesota were infected with Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

One deer has been confirmed as CWD-positive. Confirmation of the second is expected later this week. The deer, both male, were killed near Lanesboro in Fillmore County during the first firearms deer season.

Chronic Wasting disease deer hunting Minnesota

Minnesota DNR testing has found two deer with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) near Lanesboro. It’s the first time CWD has been found in southeast Minnesota since 2010. (photo from peekerhealth.com)

The two deer were harvested approximately 1 mile apart. These are the only deer to test positive from 2,493 samples collected Nov. 5-13. Results are still pending from 373 additional test samples collected during the opening three days of the second firearms season, Nov. 19-21.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. While it is found in deer in states bordering southeastern Minnesota, it was only found in a single other wild deer in Minnesota in 2010.

The DNR discovered the disease when sampling hunter-killed deer this fall in southeastern Minnesota as part of its CWD surveillance program. Dr. Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said hunter and landowner cooperation on disease surveillance is the key to keeping the state’s deer herd healthy.

“We were proactively looking for the disease, a proven strategy that allows us to manage CWD by finding it early, reacting quickly and aggressively to control it and hopefully eliminating its spread,” he said.

It is unknown how the two CWD-positive deer, which were harvested 4 miles west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348, contracted the disease, Cornicelli said. 

“We want to thank hunters who have brought their deer to our check stations for sampling,” he said. “While finding CWD-positive deer is disappointing, we plan to work with hunters, landowners and other organizations to protect the state’s deer herd and provide hunters the opportunity to pass on their deer hunting traditions.”

Chronic wasting disease Minnesota deer hunting

Two deer have been found with Chronic Wasting Disease near Lanesboro. The disease doesn’t present a threat to humans but it is recommended that you don’t eat meat from deer that test positive. (Photo from KIMT.com

These are the first wild deer found to have Chronic Wasting Disease since a deer harvested in fall 2010 near Pine Island tested positive. It was found during a successful disease control effort prompted by the detection in 2009 of CWD on a domestic elk farm. The DNR, landowners and hunters worked together to sample more than 4,000 deer in the Pine Island area from 2011 to 2013, and no additional infected deer were found.

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat. Still, the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have CWD.

With the muzzleloader deer season stretching into mid-December and archery season open through Saturday, Dec. 31, hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
  • Bone out the meat from your animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes. 
  • If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.

The DNR already has begun implementing the state’s CWD response plan. Three additional CWD testing stations were opened in Fillmore County last weekend and electronic registration was turned off in two additional deer permit areas.

“We’ll wait until the late 3B firearms season concludes this weekend and analyze test results from all the samples we collect from hunters,” Cornicelli said. “That will provide a better indication of the potential prevalence and distribution of CWD so we can determine boundaries for a disease management zone and the actions we’ll take to manage the disease and limit its spread.”

The DNR began CWD testing in southeastern Minnesota again this fall in response to expanded CWD infections in Wisconsin, Illinois, and northeast Iowa, as well as new and growing infections in Arkansas and Missouri. The increasing prevalence and geographic spread of the disease also prompted an expanded carcass import restriction that does not allow whole carcasses of deer, elk, moose and caribou to be brought into Minnesota.

The discovery of CWD in wild deer reinforces the need for the vigilance that disease surveillance and carcass import restrictions provide. Although inconvenient, hunter cooperation with these measures help protect Minnesota’s deer herd.

“Working with landowners and hunters to better protect deer from disease is vital to Minnesota’s hunting tradition and economy and most important, the deer population in general,” Cornicelli said. “In states where CWD has become well-established in wild deer, efforts at elimination have been unsuccessful. Research has shown that if established, the disease will reduce deer populations in the long term. Nobody wants this to happen in Minnesota.” 

Because much of southeastern Minnesota’s land is privately owned, the DNR will work with landowners when collecting additional samples to assess disease distribution and reduce the potential for CWD to spread. Sample collection could take the form of a late winter deer hunt, landowner shooting permits and sharpshooting in conjunction with cooperating landowners who provide permission.

“Those decisions will be made after surveillance is done this hunting season,” Cornicelli said.

The DNR has been on the lookout for CWD since 2002, when the disease first was detected at a domestic elk farm in central Minnesota. In recent years it has put additional focus on southeastern Minnesota; the region abuts Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected by CWD and the disease has been detected in northeastern Iowa’s Allamakee County.

Since 2002, the DNR has tested approximately 50,000 deer, elk, and moose for Chronic Wasting Disease.

CWD is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. The disease also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.
 
For more information, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, frequently asked questions, hunter information and venison processing, visit the DNR’s Chronic Wasting Disease homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd. Landowners, hunters and citizens can stay engaged and informed by visiting the CWD page and signing up to receive an email automatically when new information on CWD management becomes available.

More questions about CWD?

Minnesota Farm Bureau Honors Agricultural Leaders

Minnesota Farm Bureau Honors Agricultural Leaders at 98th Annual Meeting

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Awards Banquet on Friday night at the 98th Annual Meeting was focused on recognizing agricultural leaders from around the state who’ve give a lot of their time and talents to the organization. The awards banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Booming included both individual and county honors in many different categories.

Agricultural Leaders in Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation

The Distinguished Service to Agriculture award is presented annually to outstanding agricultural leaders in Minnesota. This is one of the most prestigious awards given out by the Minnesota farm Bureau. This year’s award recipients are Dr. Bill Hartman – who recently retired as the Minnesota Board of Animal Health state veterinarian, and William Nelson, who recently retired as the CHS Foundation president. 

Honorary Life awards given to lifelong members who have given enormous amounts of their time and talents to Farm Bureau. Minnesota Farm Bureau is truly grateful for all the dedication that its members give to our organization. This year’s Honorary Life award recipients are Rozetta and George Hallcock of Randolph in Dakota County, Burton Horsch of Howard Lake in Wright County and Harley and Joan Vogel of New Ulm in Brown County.

 

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation presented awards in the following areas:

The Ag Communicator of the Year award is presented to an outstanding leader in the field of communications. This year the award is given to Jerry Groskreutz of KDHL in Faribault.

 

The Extension Educator of the Year award is given to an educator who gives his/her time to promote agriculture and Farm Bureau. This year the award was presented to Troy Salzer who serves Northwestern Minnesota.

 

The FFA Advisor of the Year award is presented to the FFA Advisor who has exemplified outstanding service to educating youth about agriculture. This year the award goes to Nathan Purrington, who previously worked at Ada High school and currently works at the University of Minnesota – Crookston.

 

The Post-Secondary Agricultural Educator of the Year award recognizes educators who support production agriculture. This year the award goes to Jennifer Smith who works at Riverland Community College in Austin.The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation presented four $500 Al Christopherson Scholarships. Recipients are college juniors or seniors or in their final year of college. This year’s scholarship recipients are Rebekah Aanerud from Stevens County, daughter of Andy and Heather Aanerud; Ethan Dado of Amery, Wisconsin, son of Rick and Gwen Dado; Mariah Daninger of Washington-Ramsey County, daughter of Pat and Sharlene Daninger; and Megan Stevens of Chippewa County, daughter of Marc and Janet Stevens.

 

The Foundation also gave out two $500 Paul Stark Scholarships. Recipients are in their freshman or sophomore year of college. This year’s scholarship recipients are Abbey Weninger of Wright County, daughter of James and Lisa Weninger, and Andrew Gathje of Olmsted County, son of Paul and Nora Gathje.

 

The most prestigious county Farm Bureau award, the Counties Activities of Excellence was presented five key areas – Public Policy, Public Relations, Promotion & Education, Leadership Development and Membership Activity.

 

In the county membership group with less than 200 members, the awards were presented to Mahnomen County – for Public Policy, Leadership Development and Membership Activity; Cass County –  for Public Relations; and Aitkin/Carlton County – Promotion & Education.

 

In the group of counties with 201-450 members, the awards went to Stevens County – for Public Policy, LeSueur County – for Public Relations, Anoka County – for Promotion & Education, Traverse County – for Leadership Development, and Douglas County for Membership Activity. 

 

In the group of counties with more than 451 members, the award went to Houston County –  for Public Policy, Meeker County – for Public Relations, Brown County – for Promotion & Education, Olmsted – for Leadership Development, and Wright County – for Membership Activity.

 

The MFBF 98th Annual Meeting concludes Saturday, November 18 with the announcement of the Young Farmers & Ranchers awards.

-30-

For more information on Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.org.