• Paula Mohr

    Nature's Symphony

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on April 7, 2014

    Boy, was it noisy in the backyard and woods this morning as I walked with my dog. The birds were in full chorus. I closed my eyes and heard cheeps, calls and trills of robins, woodpeckers, cardinals, chickadees, crows, geese and sand hill cranes. And there were a few 'songs' I did not recognize. No matter. It was a true symphony of spring that I thoroughly enjoyed! And we know the wildlife and some other critters are on the move more now, too, after that last blast of snow on…

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  • Paula Mohr

    USDA April Crop Report And Your Bottom Line

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on April 1, 2014

    Join the Farm Progress Farm Futures® marketing team of Bryce Knorr and Bob Burgdorfer, Monday, April 7, for a crucial preview of spring grain markets before you head to the fields for planting. With USDA's long-awaited Prospective Plantings and quarterly Grain Stocks report out, key pieces of the price puzzle are falling into place. Knorr and Burgdorfer will compare USDA's tally with Farm Futures® own survey data, along with a preview of the April 9 USDA world supply and demand…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Who Knew About MDA's Advisory Committee Filing Deadline?

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on March 4, 2014

    In its February notice of board and committees vacancies, the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State posted that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was seeking applicants for the 15-member Agricultural Water Quality Certification Advisory Committee. The term for the first committee that helped launch the state’s new ag water quality certification pilot program is ending later this spring. Application forms were available online and had to be submitted by February 25. I learned…

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  • Paula Mohr

    I'm Dreaming Of A Windy Spring

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on February 11, 2014

    We're a hardy bunch, those of us who reside in the North Star State. We deal with things like brittle temps and mosquito clouds. Well, sorta. I have to admit that I am getting a bit tired of these sub-zero temperatures. I heard the other night on the news that as of Feb. 5, the mercury dipped to zero or colder 38 times thus far this winter in the Twin Cities. That's the most at or below zero readings since the winter of 1995-96. The report went on to compare the winter of…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Good call, Governor and Minnesota Lawmakers

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on January 31, 2014

    Last weekend, a letter signed by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, U.S. Representatives Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, and Rick Nolan, and Governor Mark Dayton was sent to President Obama, asking for immediate help to address the critical propane shortage in Minnesota. They asked for several things, including emergency funding available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. After sending another letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Never Enough Hugs

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on January 7, 2014

    It was bedtime for the little boy. As he lay in bed, his mom followed their usual routine of saying prayers, reading a book and singing a song. Then it was time for "Twenty Questions." The little boy asked more "how" and "why" questions than a seasoned journalist. Q&A usually took a few minutes. That night, he asked: "Momma, where's Jesus?" "Well," said his mom, "Jesus is everywhere." The little boy looked at his mom with…

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  • Paula Mohr

    End of An [Equipment] Era

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on December 30, 2013

    As hokey as this sounds, I have feelings for machinery. Maybe some farmers can relate. You've got this favorite, dependable, sentimentally-valued tractor or implement in your machinery shed. It's not efficient or fast anymore at all. Yet, you hang onto it because you share some history. It has been there for you through the seasons. It's been reliable. It's your go-to bud and you feel secure in how it operates. When it needs repairs, they are basic. Tweaks are done with what…

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  • Paula Mohr

    A Guiding Voice For Extension

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on December 10, 2013

    If you have wondered about the workings of the University of Minnesota Extension, now is a good time to consider gaining an inside edge and helping shape Extension's future. Nominations are currently open for positions on Extension's statewide Citizen's Advisory Committee. The CAC meets twice yearly, during State Fair week and in mid-winter. After the State Fair meeting, committee members have the option of attending the fair in the evening and watching the current 4-H Arts show…

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  • Paula Mohr

    When Minnesota Agriculture Makes Metro News

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on November 27, 2013

    I spent last Saturday attending both the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation's and the Minnesota Farmers Union's annual meetings in Bloomington and Minneapolis, respectively. Attendance at both meetings was strong. Delegates at both farm organizations re-elected their current leadership. MFBF delegates re-elected Kevin Paap to his fifth term as president. MFU delegates gave approval for Doug Peterson's seventh term as president and re-elected Gary Wertish as vice-president. Both…

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  • Paula Mohr

    The Other Side of Local

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on November 21, 2013

    When the metro newspaper arrives on Thursdays, one section is devoted to food. By the time I am done reading it, which is usually when I'm eating lunch, I've got some good suggestions for new recipes and restaurants to try. My favorite restaurant reviewer is truly an artistic food journalist. He paints savory word pictures with his adjective-laden prose about foods he has sampled at restaurants all over the greater metro area. Last week, he featured a new restaurant that noted on its…

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  • Paula Mohr

    If Animals 'Suffer,' Why Wait?

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on November 4, 2013

    An animal rights group released another spliced-together video about alleged animal abuse. The most recent one showed video from a Pipestone System hog barn, unveiled at an Oct. 29 press conference. An undercover employee reportedly shot hidden-camera video in August and September while working at the farm over a 10-week period. The video shows a worker euthanizing runts by using blunt force trauma, piglets getting castrated and having their tails removed, and sows confined in gestation…

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  • Paula Mohr

    A Salute to 4-H

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on October 8, 2013

    This week, Oct. 6-12, is National 4-H Week. Knowing that takes me back some four decades when I worked on a window display in the Fostoria, Michigan, variety store, along with a couple of other 4-Hers. National 4-H Week was approaching and we were asked to design and decorate a window in the store. The theme had something to do with rockets and blasting off into the future, if I recall. We made cardboard cut-outs of a rocket ship and other items, and covered them in aluminum foil or…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Cooler Temps Bring Out The Baker

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on September 24, 2013

    Cooler temperatures signal that little voice inside my head, telling me it's time to preheat the oven and make some cookies. Or, a pie. Or, some sort of dessert. That's what happened to me last week. Out of the blue one evening, I was measuring flour, sugar and other ingredients to make oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries. My husband was doing some work in the basement, heard the mixer running and came up to confirm what he thought I might be doing. Before descending again, he…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Educating Non-Farming Folks, One At A Time

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on September 6, 2013

    There was an interesting column in the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune by Dennis Anderson entitled "Raising crops and awareness." The outdoors columnist attended a Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council-sponsored farm visit that was held on Spring Creek Farms near North Branch. Owners John and Jewell Peterson are currently involved with Discovery Farms Minnesota. The farm encompasses 700 acres of corn and 700 acres of soybeans, with a small acreage of locally sold…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Conservation And Tithing: Doing What Is Right

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on August 21, 2013

    A huge annual sporting event takes place northwest of Anoka, not far from my home, called Game Fair. At Game Fair, hosted by Armstrong Kennels—a hunter, a fisherman, a dog lover, a conservationist—can find just about anything that supports and encourages the sport. You could say it's sort of like Farmfest, as that has everything for farmers. The event also hosts educational sessions and panels. A few years ago, it featured a panel of gubernatorial candidates that…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Farmers Need To Be Seen More And Heard

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on August 14, 2013

    With Minnesota's agriculture sector providing more than 340,000 jobs for the state and creating $75 billion in economic activity, one would think that there would be plenty of news and feature stories for the general media to cover. One would think that thoughtful journalists would go beyond rewriting financial press releases or covering the latest water quality press conference. No, farmers attending Farmfest who listened to an eight-member media panel learned that agriculture…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Freedom To Farm, Freedom Of Speech

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on August 4, 2013

    Another anti-farm editorial appeared in the Star Tribune this week, penned by a columnist who cited opinion voiced by two vegetarians. The author held up "factory farming" as an example of the horror that animals face in his attempt to defend animal rights. Really? That is so 1990s. That's when livestock farms that survived the 1980s started to expand. They were building new facilities, managing new employees, adding more livestock and accumulating acreage…

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  • Paula Mohr

    What's the Hold-Up?

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on July 24, 2013

    Given all that has been going on for the past decade with ag water quality, one would think this piece would have been taken care of awhile ago. In 2010, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture started the process to revise the state's 20-year-old Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan to better align it with current water resource conditions and program resources. That was a good move. A Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan advisory committee was formed to assist the MDA in the…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Corn and Cows Way Up North

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on July 15, 2013

    It was a productive, story-gathering three days for me this week as I traveled to the northwest corner of the state. I joined the Minnesota Cattlemen's summer beef tour in Roseau and stopped by the Magnusson Research Farm while there. Plus, I made other visits to farms for stories you'll see in The Farmer over the next several months. I was in that part of the state last summer when I participated in the Minnesota Soybean Growers' See For Yourself tour. That trip was an…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Farm Visits Always Welcome

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on July 5, 2013

    The best part of my job is the chance to get out of the office and visit a farm. I thoroughly enjoy the people, the landscape, the aromas. And with June Dairy Month, I savor an added advantage: Eating ice cream and cheese, and tossing back a cold glass of milk. Last Saturday, my friend Deb accompanied me to Autumnwood Farm, south of Forest Lake. The weather was beautiful for our short road trip to the farm’s open house. Farm open house workers were ready for the throngs of…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Decadent Indulgence With New State Fair Foods

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on June 28, 2013

    The annual list of new foods at the Minnesota State Fair was released the other day and like usual, I am already anticipating various stops and noshing my way across the fairgrounds. From Aug. 22 - Labor Day, Sept. 2, fair visitors will have the opportunity to sample 47 new foods at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Cheese curds, dairy shakes and Sweet Martha's Cookies are family favorites. So I will have to pace myself during the two or three visits I'll be making. Overall…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Are We Listening? Are We Farming Soviet-style?

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on June 24, 2013

    It was a disappointing day for agriculture Thursday when the U.S. House of Representatives voted down the farm bill. All afternoon, I read emails from various farm organizations and lawmakers, bemoaning the fact that this happened and how horrible it was for U.S. agriculture. I also received a few statements from organizations on the other side of the issue. They were glad that the bill was defeated. Here are some snippets from those emails: -"The saying goes: you reap…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Making Time to Celebrate

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on June 14, 2013

    We are at the beginning of a busy summer and the cool, wet weather has not been cooperating. We have one high school graduation and one wedding on our calendars. That's all. And I like to garden and have things done on time. That's the "farmer" in me. However, my planting window came and went about a month ago and I still have bare ground in the garden. It's going to stay that way unless I get some steeply discounted vegetable plants at a local nursery. And…

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  • Paula Mohr

    A Call To Action For All U.S. Food Consumers

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on June 7, 2013

    As I returned home from a farm interview the other day, I happened to hear the National Press Club's lunch hour session on the radio with USDA secretary Tom Vilsack. The ag secretary talked about the "complex environmental challenges" that U.S. farmers face and how climate change is at the heart of them all. Whether you believe that premise or not, Vilsack made some solid points about the impacts seen thus far—winters not cold enough to kill pests, such as the pine…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Thank You, School Bus Drivers!

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on May 31, 2013

    I intentionally watched our senior get on the bus during her last few days of school. She is our youngest and the last one to ride. When she was done with school on Wednesday, another chapter in our lives came to a close. We no longer will have a school bus stop at our house to pick up a student. For nearly a decade, bus drivers that I remember—Jan, Bob, Bill, Bobbi and others—have safely driven our children to elementary, middle and high schools in the Anoka district. When I…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Today's Grads Need Strong Communication Skills

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on May 28, 2013

    Social media aside, today's graduates continue to need strong communication skills to find employment. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook 2013 Survey, employers want candidates with "outstanding communication skills" and "who are team players. Other top abilities include "ability to make decisions and solve problems," "ability to obtain and process information," and "ability to plan, organize…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Ag Needs Consistent Representation At Water Quality Meetings

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on May 21, 2013

    The annual Mississippi River Forum, sponsored by the National Park Service, with support from the Mississippi River Fund and the McKnight Foundation, was held May 17 at the Science Museum in St. Paul. The room was packed with about 120 people with a keen interest in water quality. That is, packed with folks representing the forestry service and other natural resources, watersheds, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Department of Public Health, university Extension and overall…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Dairy Industry Deflects Milk Quality One More Time

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on May 10, 2013

    Nature's most perfect food continues to fight an uphill battle among the people who produce and regulate it. At issue is milk quality. The industry uses a measurement called the somatic cell count to determine if milk is clean and of the highest quality. High SCCs occur when a cow is sick with an inflammation of the udder called mastitis. Over the decades, those who oversee U.S. milk shipping have lowered the SCC number as science has proven that higher quality milk makes for…

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  • Paula Mohr

    Minnesota Youth Recognize Importance Of Food

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on May 3, 2013

    We had the opportunity recently to see hundreds of youth from across the state be involved in the celebration of food—from its production to its consumption. The State FFA convention was held in St. Paul April 28-30. Some 3,000-plus FFAers converged at the U-M campus to learn more, to celebrate accomplishments and to renew friendships. That sea of blue jackets always is an inspiring sight to behold. You know the world is in good hands when you see a congregation of FFA…

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  • Paula Mohr

    DEA Goes After Veterinarians In Trucks

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on April 26, 2013

    In its ongoing effort to curtail illegal drug use, transport and smuggling, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is going after those folks who for decades have traveled openly with antibiotics, painkillers, vaccines and other subcutaneous injections: Veterinarians. Yes, DEA's interpretation of the Controlled Substance Act stretches to those who care for and treat 1,500-pound patients in pens and fields. DEA has said that federal regulations make it illegal for veterinary…

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  • Paula Mohr

    The White Stuff Can Go

    Northstar Notes

     by Paula Mohr
     on April 19, 2013

    Like most Minnesotans, I am tired of the snow. I am finally admitting that. I have remained stalwart throughout the winter and into March as we got hit again and again with measurable white stuff. I kept my 'happy face' on while my family and I shoveled our long driveway, telling myself and my grumbling teen that this was wonderful family bonding-time. The latter was short-lived. Unless we had snowball fights while shoveling. Which we did Thursday night. Depending…

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