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Farm Briefs

Strategic animal ag conference is Jan. 14 and 15

WILLMAR -- The 2010 Strategic Animal Ag Conference, sponsored by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, Minnesota Farm and Food Coalition and the state Department of Agriculture, is Jan. 14 and 15 at the Holiday Inn and Willmar Conference Center.

The conference, "A Farmer's Footprint: Quality Management in the Land of 10,000 Lakes," will include presentations on marketing locally grown products and eating Minnesota-grown products, along with updates on federal legislation, food safety and animal welfare, livestock economics and a panel discussion on manure application issues.

The keynote address on Jan. 15 will be by Chad Gregory, United Egg Producers, on the anti-agriculture movement and how to be proactive as producers.

The conference will also include a free clinic to test water for nitrate levels. To bring a sample to be tested, let the cold tap run for three minutes and then collect one cup of water in a bag or jar. Results are usually available in 5 to 10 minutes.

For more information about the conference, contact the EDC at 320-235-7370, 888-815-7370 or Registration is due by Jan. 6 and is $55 in advance and $65 at the door.

Melrose couple named Good Farm Neighbors

ST. PAUL -- A fifth-generation farm family is the November winner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Good Farm Neighbor Award. Jeron and Brenda Nathe of Melrose took over the 275-cow dairy from his parents in 2006. They give credit to their hard-working family members and employees for numerous quality awards they've received as one of the top 10 dairy producers in the state.

Jeron Nathe says developing a sound plan for environmental stewardship is a big part of their dairy operation. This plan includes working with county, state and national experts to meet environmental regulations and obtain proper permitting in order to reduce the potential for water quality problems.

Nathe says taking care of their animals and providing for wildlife is also part of maintaining a successful farm operation.

"We do everything in our power to make sure our cows are healthy and comfortable. We have to make a living and I know what we're doing out here is good," says Nathe. "And I think people are beginning to understand that farmers are good stewards of the land and everyone needs farmers for food and other things."

The Nathes also host events on their farm and stay active in farm and community organizations.

Winners of the Good Farm Neighbor Award are selected by a committee representing the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Holmgren elected Farmers Union delegate

ST. PAUL -- Sam Holmgren of Atwater was elected to represent Minnesota Farmers Union at the national convention March 14 to 16 in Rapid City, S.D. He was elected at the 68th annual state convention by other delegates from his district.

"Sam understands Minnesota Farmers Union policy well, and as a delegate he will do a great job at representing our state on the national level," said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President.

Delegates will advocate for the following priorities: stronger action on antitrust issues, and enforcement of antitrust laws; and strong support for federal health care reform legislation that offers a robust public option that would allow for all legal residents health care that would not be tied to pre-existing conditions.

Biodiesel kaput without fed tax credit: study

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- An industry study says biodiesel production could stop unless a federal $1-per-gallon tax credit is extended.

The credit is scheduled to expire at year's end. Biodiesel supporters are concerned that efforts to extend the credit will get bogged down in Congress.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the possible demise of the tax credit concerns him. He says the credit is important to help keep biodiesel competitive with regular petroleum-based diesel fuel.

The National Biodiesel Board financed the study by an outside economic consultant. It says if the tax credit expires, biodiesel profits will vanish and fuel output will suffer a "complete decline."

Biodiesel sales this year are expected to decline about 31 percent, and the report says the industry is operating at only 15 percent of capacity.

Archer Daniels Midland operates a biodiesel plant near Velva in central North Dakota.