Busy week farming - hay harvest is well underway. Lots of hours on the tractor. Truly enjoy that part of farming since the day my Dad first let me drive our tractor as a very young boy.
This week I have been spending time at the Aitkin County Fair. Highlight of the fair this year was dedication of the new horse barn. The horse barn has been absent from the fairgrounds since the old barn was torn down over a decade ago.
Project leader Lance Bauman, with the help of scores of 4-H youth, cut the ribbon on the new barn as a huge crowd of supporters looked on. The project took on the attributes of an old-fashion barn raising. Leaders from across the entire community stepped forward to lend a hand donating funds, volunteering labor and donating materials to build a modern new horse barn.
The new barn provides our 4-H youth, saddle club members and the general public with a modern facility to safely enjoy the equine experience. Occasionally, I mention that mining is important to our part of Minnesota. The Aitkin County Horse Barn project is an example. While the entire community made it possible to replace the old horse barn, two entities associated with mining were also key players in moving this project forward.
American Peat Technology, a local company, provided a major jump start to the effort with a substantial grant. American Peat is an important local employer which produces critical peat based products for agriculture and advanced environmental systems. Local peat resources are turned into products that help feed the world and provide high level environmental water filtration systems.
The Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Agency (IRRRA) also provided substantial support. IRRRA is primarily funded by the taconite tax. Taconite, a low-grade iron ore, is mined and turned into taconite pellets which provide the raw material for the United States’ steel industry. The taconite tax is distributed back on a competitive basis to the local communities on the Cuyuna, Vermillion and Mesabi iron ranges, the original iron mining districts in Minnesota.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but mining remains an important part of our region. We are able to mine and do it in an environmentally responsible manner. Please be safe as we enjoy these wonderful summer days.