Tricounty News

The future of bio-plastics: The road less littered upon

There has been increasing research in the U.S. on the use of bio-plastics in society. The use of bio-plastics versus petroleum-based plastics is quickly becoming an increasingly popular way to make and use plastics without using continually limited natural resources, such as petroleum.

In the early 1900s, a majority of the plastic used in the United States were bio-based. During World War II the use of petroleum-based plastics increased to meet the demand for various plastic products. Now in 2013, of the 12.63 million tons of plastic produced each year only 2.6 percent is bio-based. There has been more than 1 billion dollars invested in recycling programs since 1990 to properly recycle these petroleum-based plastics while keeping them out of landfills.

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FSA 2013 reporting of prevented planting extended to July 15

Farmers must report prevented planting acreage to their local USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) office by July 15, 2013. FSA State Executive Director Debra Crusoe stated, “Due to an unseasonably cool and wet spring, planting has been significantly delayed or prevented in many areas of Minnesota this crop year.” “Farmers must remember to visit their local FSA office before July 15 to report all their crop acreage, including that which has been prevented from planting.” Crusoe said.

USDA policy requires farmers who request prevented planting credit to report the applicable acreage to FSA on form FSA-578 (Report of Acreage) and file form CCC-576 (Notice of Loss) within 15 calendar days after the final planting date for the crop. Final planting dates vary by crop but are all typically well before the final acreage reporting date of July 15. For 2013, however, FSA has simplified the process due to the widespread disaster situation by extending the various prevented planting acreage reporting deadlines for Minnesota to coincide with the final crop acreage reporting date of July 15, 2013. Prevented planting acreage reported on CCC-576 and FSA-578 after this date may be subject to late filing fees.

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AgStar grant awarded to EV-W ag program

The AgStar Fund for Rural America, the corporate giving program of AgStar Financial
Services, recently awarded $30,000 in grants through its AgStar Agriculture Classroom Equipment Grant Program.

The program’s mission is to support agricultural education by funding educational experiences for students completing course work in agriculture and related fields. AgStar awarded grants to 14 high school agriculture departments in its 69-county service area.

“Providing equipment for students to learn about the ag industry is not always in the budget for agriculture departments in rural schools,” stated John Monson, Chair of AgStar’s Fund Board of Trustees. “Subsidizing equipment and technology needs through this program for rural schools allows students who are interested in the agricultural field to have new and applied opportunities. This program shows AgStar’s commitment to ag education and to the rural and agricultural communities where we operate.”

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Battling resistance: Another view on crop rotation

As we near the end of the planting season, the concern for rootworm, aphids and other pests and weeds is a thought in the back of every farmers mind. It is especially worrisome if the crops that used to be effective in the resistance of weeds and insects are now facing more resilient pests that have adapted to the genetically engineered seeds and sprays that have been spread over fields for the past 15 years. The resolution: rotation of crops.

It’s easier said than done. 

Even though rotation of crops is the only environmentally friendly and, ultimately, the best way to deal with insects and weeds that have adapted, it is hard for farmers to do. When the economy has a high demand for corn, a farmer will plant corn. Planting a different crop will just be a loss; it wouldn’t be economically feasible. Most farmers are forced to use more pesticides and herbicides to deal with the difficult pests. Seed companies like Monsanto are working on stronger chemicals and different genetically engineered seeds for farmers, but the pests will just keep adapting to the use of stronger (and more toxic) chemicals.

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FSA seeks committee candidates

The Farm Service Agency is looking for candidates for the farmer-elected County Committee election this fall and is especially interested in identifying people who have not been active participants with FSA in the past.

The 2013 Stearns County FSA election will be held in Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 1, which includes the following townships: Brockway, Collegeville, Fairhaven, LeSauk, Lynden, Luxemburg, Maine Prairie, Rockville, Saint Augusta, Saint Cloud, Saint Joseph, Saint Wendel, and Wakefield. 

This area is presently represented by Joe Krippner.

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