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Paynesville Press - Feb. 5, 2003

Ag meeting held in Roscoe

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Over three dozen farmers attended a farm best management meeting last week in Roscoe.

Organized by the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), the program included speakers on topics ranging from feedlot certification and soil compaction to organic farming and new USDA programs.

farmers at ag meeting - photo by Bonnie Jo Hanson The meeting was attended by 57 people, including 38 farmers, and was organized with input from the University of Minnesota Extension Service, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Stearns County Environmental Services.

Three dozen Stearns County farmers came together for a farm management meeting in Roscoe last week.

Some of the more popular topics, according to Dennis Fuchs of the SWCD, were organic farming and biosecurity and animal herd health. The informational meetings are held annually and give farmers an opportunity to have questions answered, learn new techniques and perhaps become more efficient in their management practices, said Fuchs.

As well as being environmentally sound, farmers are legally bound to adhere to safe manure practices, said Dave Wall of the MPCA. Wall summarized how minor changes to feedlots - including the use of gutters to guide clean water away from manure, diversions to keep manure from flowing into the water supply, and buffers or filters between feedlots and water - can make a significant reduction in the amount of pollutants that enter the water.

Wall also reviewed the state's feedlot provisions and criteria for feedlot permitting.

Glenn Borgerding, an agricultural consultant from Albany, explained the basics of organic farming. Organic farming is gaining popularity because of higher market values of organically grown goods, which have a higher demand than ever before, he said.

Even with the arduous management aspects of organic farming - which must be done without most synthetic fertilizers or pesticides - area farmers may consider making the shift as the organic market remains higher than the non-organic markets for crops, livestock, and dairy products, said Borgerding.

Dr. Dale Nierby of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health gave a presentation on biosecurity and animal herd health. Using photographs, he reviewed Great Britain's battle with hoof and mouth disease. Although the disease has not entered North America he stressed the importance of maintaining healthy livestock herds and used Great Britain as an example of what could happen.

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