I pen this update after returning from one of many visits to the bridge replacement project on State Hwy 47 south of Glen, MN. The highway has been closed much longer than anticipated due to major weather issues and difficulty in stabilizing the rebuilt road bed.
Based on discussions with the work crew this morning, they expect to regain design grade this weekend, followed by asphalt early next week. I hesitate to predict, but we are finally close to the long-awaited reopening Hwy 47.
The extended road closure has resulted in many miles of detour and has significantly impacted the local businesses. I greatly appreciate the communities’ patience during a very frustrating time as this project finally nears completion.
This week I participated in a House Ag Committee visit to southern Minnesota. With only two of us currently actively engaged in farming among the nine legislators in the group, it was an important opportunity to expose our fellow legislators to the real world of agriculture.
We began at the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) Farm which produces fresh produce and flowers. The HAFA farm is a cooperative venture by the Hmong community. They manage a 155-acres in Dakota County where individual families lease plots of land. They produce over 160 varieties of fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers.
Coop members aggregate and sell their produce through community-supported agriculture shares, metro area schools, retailers and institutions. A recent financial analysis indicates that Hmong-American community here in Minnesota generate over $250 million in annual produce and flower sales.
Next was the Becker farm, a corn and bean operation that is working with cover crops. They inter-seed cover crops with the corn and beans. The cover crops retard weed growth, help break up the soil reducing the need to till and provide natural organic matter reducing annual fertilizer inputs.
The final stop was the Reuben Bode swine farm. MN is 2nd only to Iowa in pork production, we account for almost 15% of the total annual US pork production. This was an eye opener to those not familiar with state-of-the-art swine production. We dressed in bio-suits before entering the facility, not to protect us, but rather to protect the pigs from any pathogens that we might bring into the facility.
Outside the unit was odor free, inside only a mild indication of odor. The young pigs were clean, dry and healthy. They live in a climate-controlled environment that ensures they stay healthy and are nurtured in a comfortable stress-free environment.