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Farm Briefs, June 13

Land valueshold steady in Minn. during turbulent economy

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the nation's economy, agriculture land values in Minnesota have held strong the past six months.

According to Sam Kain, areas sales manager for Farmers National Company in Iowa and Minnesota, the higher-quality land in Minnesota is in the $4,000 to $5,000 an acre range, with very few sales over the $5,000 mark. Mid-quality land in Minnesota is bringing in around $3,000 per acre.

"In Minnesota we haven't seen the decrease in prices that we are seeing in Iowa," Kain said. "Land values in Minnesota didn't increase as rapidly as those in Iowa, so land owners in Minnesota haven't seen the decline we are experiencing in some areas in Iowa."

Market and economic uncertainty has led some Iowa and Minnesota land owners to sit tight with their properties, resulting in fewer properties for sale at this time.

"People are confused and a little gun shy," Kain said. "Those with land to sell aren't sure what to do with the money if they do sell. As the economy improves, we will start getting more calls from those who are ready to put their land on the market. Investors seem to be coming back into the market."

Farmers in area counties eligible for low-interest flood loans

ST. PAUL -- Farmers in 28 Minnesota counties are eligible to apply for low-interest loans through the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority to offset the cost of losses caused by severe weather and flooding this spring.

Area counties include Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Pope, Swift and Yellow Medicine.

Severe storms and flooding in this region resulted in a presidential disaster declaration in April. The Rural Finance Authority's Disaster Loan Program provides low-interest loans to farmers to recover the cost of losses not covered by insurance, such as building repairs or replacement, equipment repairs or replacement and extra feed expenses from lost crops.

Loans are available until April 22, 2010, at an interest rate of 3 percent and the length of the loan is based on the use of funds, not to exceed 10 years. Farmers work through their local lender to complete a loan application and apply for Rural Finance Authority participation.

Researchers get grant for commercial raspberries

MORRIS -- A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris has received a sustainable agriculture grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to find improved methods of commercial raspberry growing.

According to project director Steven Poppe, the team will use the grant to research different growing methods, their commercial viability and the impact of these practices on human health.

"We've planted raspberry varieties in high tunnels on test plots near Alexandria and Morris," Poppe said. "The high-tunnel structures will allow us to extend the growing season. We'll compare their yield to the field-planted raspberries and share this research with growers."

Poppe says the researchers will also evaluate strategies to eliminate the use of fungicides and herbicides, and minimize the use of insecticides in raspberry production.

"Investigating new methods of producing raspberries is desirable as growers are looking to eliminate synthetic chemicals in their production systems," Poppe said. "Commercial raspberry production in the Upper Midwest has many challenges and sharing our research with the growers is a key component of this project."

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture sustainable agriculture grants support three-year projects that increase farm net profits, benefit the environment and improve the farm family quality of life.

Send information about your ag-related event or other ag news to or to the West Central Tribune, PO Box 839, Willmar, MN 56201.