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Kimball, Minnesota
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December 24, 2009     Tri-County News
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December 24, 2009
 

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Thursday, December 24, 2009  Farm f.4&apos; Page 9 Tri,County News Kimball, MN ...................... 6ene Hugoson Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture / Minnesota agribusinesses are F still competitive The latest state budget fore- cast showed that Minnesota con- tinues to struggle with the effects of the so-called "Great Recession." The state's general fund revenues are expected to fall more than a. billion dollars below earlier esti- mates for the 2010-2011 budget period. The challenge now is to find a way to close this budget gap without causing further damage to a state economy that remains in intensive care. As I sifted through the budget forecast documents, I was struck by the jobs numbers. Budget fore- casters predict that when all is said and done, the recession will have cost Minnesota more than 150,000 jobs between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2010. Those figures tell me that job cre- ation and retention will be a dom- inant economic issue for 2010 and beyond. Most elected officials under- stand the importance of a healthy economy, but that doesn't always translate into full consideration Of how government actions affect employers and their ability to sup- port jobs. As decision-makers in Washington and St. Paul look for Solutions to major challenges in areas such as health care, educa- tion, energy and the environmen- tal, we need to consistently ask Ourselves one question: "How will his affect my constituents' ability 'to find and keep good jobs?" Eor the agriculture, and. food Sector, which generates one of every five Minnesota jobs, this means carefully considering the job market implications as we move ahead on our own list of hot- .button issues such as energy con- Servation, renewable fuels devel- iopment, carbon emissions, water and soil protection, and interna- .tional trade. There is important work to do, but along the way we must also do our best to ensure the long-term competitive viability of Minnesota's agriculture and food industry- and its 367,000 jobs. As Governor Pawlenty has observed, Minnesota is in fierce competition with other states and countries to attract and retain employers. During our recent trade mission to Brazil'and Chile, I was impressed with the energy and resourcefulness of their farm- ers and agribusinesses. I came away convinced there are ways we can work together, but I also real- ized how eager they are to claim a larger portion of global commod- ity markets. We need to be mind- ful of that competitive pressure any time we make policy decisions about how we want our farmers to farm, especially when the policies being considered would increase production costs. I don't mean to suggest that we place job creation above all other policy goals. In fact, I believe that if we tackle some of our challenges in a smart and creative way, we may actually be able to create jobs as we solve problems. What I am arguing is that the jobs issue must be a very high priority because experts tell us that unemployment levels will remain uncomfortably high for the next few years even as the economy picks up. The recession from which we are emerging has been a painful reminder that without economic stability, iUs had ;o get much else done. We don't need to turn our back on Minnesota's tradition of setting high standards for envi- ronmental protection and social infrastructure. We just need to recognize that one of the prereq- uisites for progress in these areas is a reasonably healthy economy with good jobs for those who want them. Steve Gohman (27), Can//kaus (26), Safety Officer-Cindy Stelten (24), Chief-John Gohmann (22), (22), Bill Thell (19), Sec.frreas-Ed Borman (15), Steve Decknatel (15), Rose Borman (13), Asst. Chief-Dave Traurig (13), Aaron Knaus (11), Captain-Dave Geislinger (11), Ron Daniels (9), [9), 1st Asst. Chief-Jim Young (9), Bob Buerman (7), Engineer-Bob Erickson (7), [:11 Funding available for sustainable agriculture projects Deadline for grant signup is Jan. 15 Don't miss the opportunity to apply for funding that can help you turn your innovative ideas into a sustainable farming prac- tice. The Minnesota Department of Agricukure (MDA) is accepting applications for Sustainable Agri- culture Demonstration Grants through Jan. 15, 2010. These grants are intended for projects that pro- mote environmental stewardship and conservation of resources as well as improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas. MDA will award up to $90,000 in 2010 for projects such as fruit and vegetable production, livestock production systems, con- servation tillage and weed man- agement, organic farming, and alternative energy crop produc- tion. The MDA's Sustainable Agri- culture Demonstration Grant Pro- gram has helped many Minnesota farmers and researchers develop new concepts into viable produc- tion practices, such as the use of high tunnel systems to extend the fruit and vegetable growing sea- son. Completed applications must be received by MDA no later than Jan. 15, 2010. Applications are available on the MDA Web site at <www.mda.state.mn.us/esap>, or contact the Agricultural Devel- opment and Financial Assistance Division at (651) 201-6012. Projects funded by the MDA's SustainableAgriculture Grant Pro- gram are highlighted in the Green- book, which is free and avail- able at <www.mda.state.mn.us/ greenbook>, or bycalling (651) 201- 6012. HOLID rNDE HWY. 55, ANNANDALE SPECIALS ABOVE PRICES PLUS TAX, LICENSE & FEES, O.A.C.