Ethanol Update: EPA errors, infographics, failed anti-ethanol amendment, breast cancer research

It’s been a while since we published an Ethanol Update, so let’s not waste any time with small talk. Let’s get right to it:

EPA’s flawed MOVES model
The Urban Air Initiative published a great piece this week on why the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) MOVES model is flawed against ethanol. From the piece:

The MOVES 2014 Model uses input data that came from the results of something called the EPAct Study. The EPA conducted the EPAct Study to better understand the effects of fuel property changes on vehicle emissions. However, the test fuels used in the EPAct study were irrationally match blended, and not at all a reflection of consumer or real world fuels.

You can read the full piece here, which includes information on why auto industry experts are even critical of the methods used by EPA in establishing its MOVES model.

A message to EPA: Get real on emissions and clean fuels
Keeping with the EPA-has-no-clue-when-it-comes-to-renewable fuels theme, Doug Durante, Executive Director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, writes that it’s time for EPA to get real about emissions and clean fuels. An excerpt:

The collective message to EPA from the public should be to get real! As in real world. They rely on computer models, estimates, guesstimates, spreadsheets, and incomplete science when we have real world data and more effective testing methods available to us like actually driving the vehicle and actually measuring emissions….Yet, when ethanol is added to finished, consumer gasoline that already contains ethanol, lots of positive things happen. Octane increases while aromatics and toxics are reduced. Carbon Monoxide, Sulfur, CO2, and Particulates go down. This is real, and splash blending ethanol onto finished E10 is the methodology and gauge EPA should use, because that is how it would most efficiently enter the market.

The full column can be read here.

EPA’s RFS cuts threaten farm income
A new white paper released this week by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and National Farmers Union details how EPA’s proposed cuts to the Renewable Fuel Standard are a real threat to farm incomes and rural economies throughout the United States.

From NCGA President Chip Bowling:

“Our country’s farmers and biofuels producers have met the challenges of the RFS, investing in renewable fuel production and creating jobs in rural America that can’t be outsourced to other countries. Thanks to the RFS, we are helping to reduce foreign oil dependence with clean, secure American-made renewable fuel. However, the EPA’s weakened proposed rule has hurt farm income across the country – the USDA has projected net cash income for American farmers and ranchers to decline by 26 percent this year. Now is not the time to break our commitment to America’s farmers. It’s time to put forth a strong RFS so we can continue moving our country forward and bolster farm income in our rural communities.”

The white paper is available here.

Social media infographics
If you’re looking for an effective and easy way to stand up and speak out for homegrown ethanol on social media, be sure to share these infographics from our friends at Fuels America. Here is an example of one of the infographics:

DOE study: ethanol increases engine efficiency
Perhaps EPA could learn a thing or two from the Department of Energy (DOE).

According to a new DOE study, higher ethanol blends would play a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving engine efficiencies. One of the study’s conclusions states that higher octane fuels that contain higher amounts of ethanol would “enable downsizing, downspeeding, and change air boosting of the engine to improve fuel economy. And it has the added benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”

The full report can be viewed here.

Anti-ethanol amendment defeated in the Senate
Anti-ethanol stalwart Patrick Toomey (R-PA) attempted to tack on an amendment to an unrelated bill in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs that would have eliminated corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The amendment was soundly defeated by a 15-7 vote. However, the fact that the amendment was even introduced serves as another reminder that Big Oil and its cronies like Sen. Toomey will do whatever it takes to eliminate fuel choice, increase its grip on our wallets at the pump and send America’s energy policy backward if ethanol’s supporters do not continue to stand up and speak out.

The National Corn Growers released a statement on the defeat of the Toomey amendment that can be read here.

Fueling the fight against breast cancer
Through Oct. 31, all Minnoco retailers are donating 2 cents of every gallon purchased of unleaded plus/E15 toward breast cancer research. Look for the pink nozzle and select the fuel designated by the pink decals.

Find a Minnoco location near you, fill up with E15, and support breast cancer research through Oct. 31.

RFA’s new app
If you’re looking for an app that combines ethanol advocacy, information, fact, figures, and more into one convenient app, be sure to download the Renewable Fuels Association’s new Advocacy Mobile App.

Full details on the app and how to download it can be found here.

Where to find higher ethanol blends
If you’re wondering where you can fill up with E15, E85 or other higher ethanol blends, go to for a map and list of stations. You can also download the Minnesota Biofuels Association station locator app.

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Minnesota corn farmers are proud supporters of 4-H programs

Kayla Kutzke, Ryan Peterson and Daniel Williamson are from Meeker County and won the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge. They are pictured with Dorothy Freeman, an associated Dean and state 4-H Director at the U of M and Bev Durgan, right, U of M Extension Dean.

The winning team from this year’s 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge, which was sponsored by MCGA.

On Tuesday, our friends and partners at the Minnesota Farm Bureau (MFB) sent out a news release celebrating National 4-H Week by highlighting MFB’s strong support for several Minnesota 4-H programs and initiatives. You can read MFB’s news release here.

Here at the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), we thought it was such a good idea for Farm Bureau to highlight its support for 4-H that we’re going to, ahem, “borrow” their idea and highlight the many Minnesota 4-H programs and events supported by Minnesota’s corn farmers.

(Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?)

MCGA is proud to support the following Minnesota 4-H programs and events:

  • Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Livestock Auction — MN State Fair Scholarship
  • 4-H at the Minnesota State Fair — Pioneer Public TV (The program begins airing on Oct. 8. Details here.)
  • 4-H Dairy Showcase at the MN State Fair
  • Minnesota 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge program
  • National Association of Extension 4-H Agents — National Conference
  • The Minnesota 4-H Foundation Annual Golf Classic
  • Local county corn and soybean grower organizations sponsor numerous events and programs at the local level

On behalf of Minnesota’s corn farmers, THANK YOU to the youth leaders, 4-H agents, partner organizations and everyone else who makes Minnesota 4-H such a great organization. MCGA looks forward to continuing our strong support of Minnesota 4-H, both at the state and local level.

(And thank you to Farm Bureau for giving us the idea for this post. It’s not only important for organization’s like MFB and MCGA to support Minnesota 4-H, it’s also important that we highlight that support and help raise the profile of Minnesota 4-H among our members, the agriculture community, and non-farmers.)

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West Central farmer elected President of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association for 2015-16

Noah Hultgren

Noah Hultgren

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) state board of directors recently elected Noah Hultgren as its new president for 2015-16. Hultgren grows corn, soybeans, sugar beets, edible beans and canning vegetables on his family farm near Raymond, Minn., in Kandiyohi County.

Hultgren is a fourth-generation family farmer and was elected to the MCGA board in 2011. He replaces Bruce Peterson from Northfield, whose one-year term as president ended on Sept. 30.

“MCGA has accomplished a lot in recent years on behalf of corn farmers, especially in the areas of research, environmental stewardship and ethanol,” Hultgren said. “The next step is to build on those achievements and leverage them in a way that connects with non-farming consumers. Corn farmers have an amazing story to tell. We need to make sure we’re telling it and making our voices heard outside of the farm community.”

When Noah isn’t farming, he spends time with his wife Paula and their three daughters. He’s also a licensed Realtor, an appraiser trainee and enjoys fantasy sports, golfing, deer hunting, fishing and snowmobiling.

Also at its September meeting, MCGA elected St. James farmer Harold Wolle, Jr. from St. James first vice president; Tim Wiersma, Wells, treasurer and Kirby Hettver, DeGraff, secretary.

MCGA has over 7,100 members and represents the interests of more than 24,000 corn farmers throughout Minnesota. The Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council (MCR&PC) administers the efficient and effective investment of Minnesota’s corn check-off. The shared mission of both organizations is to identify and promote opportunities for corn farmers, while building better connections with the non-farming public.

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Corn farmers fund research to help overcome obstacles to cover crops in Minnesota

It took a lot of experimenting before Bryan Biegler finally found success with cover crops on his farm near Lake Wilson in southwest Minnesota.

“We’re just now finding our spot with cover crops,” Biegler said. “We’re experimenting with different equipment and seeing what works for us.”

When it comes to cover crops, there are a lot of Minnesota farmers out there like Biegler. They see the soil fertility and water quality benefits cover crops provide, but struggle to make them work in Minnesota’s cold climate and short growing season.

Farmer-funded research

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is working to change that. Using funds from Minnesota’s corn check-off, MCGA invests in research that seeks to make cover crops a more realistic and feasible option for all Minnesota corn farmers.

“Corn farmers have invested heavily in recent years to expand and improve on the many conservation practices available to protect water quality and soil fertility,” said MCGA Executive Director Dr. Adam Birr. “When it comes to cover crops, we’re working to determine which regions and under what conditions and cropping systems they’re most effective.”

What are cover crops?

Cover crops are planted in fields to “protect” the soil post-harvest. Generally, cover crops are most effective when planted after small grains and canning crops that are harvested earlier in the season. MCGA research is examining ways to improve cover-crop use in fields where traditional row crops such as corn or soybeans are planted.

“We want to make sure farmers are using cover crops on lands where they’re most effective,” said Dr. Paul Meints, MCGA Research Director. “And if a cover crop isn’t feasible, our research helps farmers better understand alternative conservation practices that can achieve results similar to cover crops.”

The benefits of cover crops include increasing organic matter in the soil, potential for reducing the amount of commercial fertilizer needed for the following year’s crop, significantly cutting soil erosion from wind and rain, increasing a field’s natural fertility, and suppressing weeds and insects.

Examples of cover crops include perennials like alfalfa or fall planted materials like oats, winter peas, radish or rye. In Minnesota, fall planted cover crops are typically planted late in the growing season, often after the corn or soybean field has been harvested.

A rye cover crop growing in one of Bryan Biegler's corn fields.

A rye cover crop growing in one of Bryan Biegler’s corn fields.

Some farmers attempt to plant cover crops by flying on seed into standing crops, but establishment is heavily dependent on weather and rainfall. Whether Mother Nature cooperates enough to get a cover crop established or not, the costs farmers incur to plant a cover crop remain. Cover crops are more widely used in southern states because of their warmer fall temperatures.

“Minnesota farmers are often still harvesting after a killing frost,” Meints said “That’s why it’s challenging to make cover crops work up here.”

Timing is also important because farmers don’t want the newly established cover crop to interfere with fall harvest of the standing crop. Because farmers have only a short amount of time to establish cover crops before Minnesota’s cold winter kicks in and the snow starts flying, using cover crops is much more complicated than it appears.

Future of cover crops

MCGA has supported several field plots throughout the state where researchers gather data on cover crops. On-farm demonstration sites and experimentation also helps determine what works and what doesn’t work. As research efforts progress and data is collected, the path for making cover crops more successful in Minnesota will become clearer.

“We’re seeing advancements in technology and new programs that are moving cover crops in a more mainstream direction here in Minnesota,” said Jodi DeJong-Hughes, a U of M Regional Extension Educator who works on several soil health and water quality projects in partnership with MCGA. “Farmers are developing a better understanding of the benefits of cover crops, but feasibility remains an issue. That’s why continued research is so important. Minnesota’s farmland is diverse. We need to keep working to find what works best in certain regions, whether that’s cover crops or alternative conservation practices.”

Nearly 60 participants gathered on Biegler’s farm for a National Corn Growers Association Soil Health Partnership field day in September. The farmers and agency officials in the audience learned more about Biegler’s efforts to make cover crops work on his farm, and the soil health benefits he’s enjoyed because of cover crops.

“Nothing in farming is easy, including cover crops,” Biegler said. “But farmers have shown over the years that when they invest time and money into something, progress is made. We’re making progress on cover crops and I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

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Minnesota corn farmer’s CRP land buzzing with pollinator activity

A fall picture of Luepke on his CRP acres on his farm near Courtland.

A fall picture of Luepke on his CRP acres on his farm near Courtland.

When John Luepke turns off the engine on his 4-wheeler, he hears the steady buzz of pollinating bees on his farm near Courtland, Minn., in Nicollet County.

Luepke has enrolled a 20 acre section of his farm into USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which helps farmers plant species that improve environmental health on sensitive areas of land.  The colorful Blacked Eyed Susans and New England Astor flowers created a nearly perfect landscape for pollinating insects like bees. Pheasants Forever also assisted in creating habitat on the site.

“We’ve got a lot of butterflies, too,” Luepke said. “They’re flying around while the bees are buzzing.”

But it’s more than just wild bees that are on Luepke’s corn, sheep and rotational grazing farm. Three years ago Luepke approached Honl Bees out of Winthrop, Minn., about putting some hives on his CRP land. A Honl representative toured the site, and the scenic area has provided a home for Honl

Luepke's CRP acres also provide habitat for bee hives.

Luepke’s CRP acres also provide habitat for bee hives.

bee hives every summer since.

“It’s worked out great so far,” Luepke said.

In addition to CRP acres, Luepke also has several windbreaks on his farm that are humming with activity from bees and butterflies.

On a separate farm site in Blue Earth County, Luepke has an eight-acre section enrolled in CRP that’s planted in native hot season grasses like switchgrass and canary grass. The project was completed in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Pheasants eat the switchgrass seeds and it’s great habitat,” Luepke said. “We’re proud of the project.”

Luepke’s ancestors have been farming in Minnesota since 1867. When he’s not working on the farm or maintaining his CRP acres, Luepke serves on the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) board of directors. He’s also active in Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Minnesota Soybean and serves as a director on the Minnesota Soybean Processors.

In addition to bee and pheasant habitat, Luepke's farm also has a wildlife pond.

In addition to bee and pheasant habitat, Luepke’s farm also has a wildlife pond.

Over the last year, MCGA has worked to improve pollinator habitat by distributing more than 4,000 pollinator-friendly wildflower seed packets and developing a free pollinator guide for Minnesota farmers. There’s even a new pollinator plot growing outside the MCGA offices in Shakopee.

Today, sunflowers up to 7 feet tall dot the landscape on Luepke’s CRP acres. The giant yellow plants began sprouting up following a prescribed burn that maintains the long-term environmental quality of the land.

“Everything looks great,” Luepke said. “Most importantly, the bees and butterflies seem happy.”

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MCGA’s partnership with Gophers Sports remains strong

The Blume family were recognized as the MCGA Homegrown Farm Family of the Game on Sept. 19 when the Gophers beat Kent State.

The Blume family was recognized as the MCGA Homegrown Farm Family of the Game on Sept. 19 when the Gophers beat Kent State.

Fans of the University of Minnesota Gophers football team have seen a lot happen at TCF Bank Stadium so far this season.

  • Coach Jerry Kill’s squad nearly beat the No. 2 ranked team in the country to open the season.
  • The Gophers held on for a narrow 10-7 win over Kent St. on Sept. 19.
  • QB Mitch Leidner led a fourth-quarter comeback to help the Gophers overcome numerous injuries and beat Ohio on Homecoming this past Saturday.

As fans enjoy the Gophers success and everything that makes a trip to TCF Bank Stadium a memorable experience, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) works to connect with those fans with a positive message about corn farming.

For the third consecutive season, a homegrown Minnesota corn-farming family is being recognized during the game for their commitment to agriculture and protecting land, soil and water resources around their farm. You can learn more about the homegrown farm families that have been recognized this season here, here and here.

MCGA’s positive corn-farming message extends beyond TCF Bank Stadium. Two new radio commercials airing during all Gophers sports broadcasts highlight a “quirky” characteristic of two Minnesota corn farmers, as well as conservation practices those farmers implement on their farms.

You can listen to both of the new radio spots below:

When the puck drops on the Gophers hockey season later this fall, a conservation and corn-themed Zamboni will prepare the ice for play at Mariucci Arena between periods. Across the street at Williams Arena, scoreboard signage and other displays will showcase the work of Minnesota corn farmers.

Look for more information on the Zamboni and signage in a future post here at

Connecting with consumers in the positive and fun environment offered by Gophers sporting events is a great way to reach non-farmers in the Twin Cities metro area. It’s up to corn farmers to tell their own story, and Gophers sporting events offer a great venue to do so.

MCGA and the University of Minnesota also have a strong partnership away from the football field, hockey rink and basketball court. Minnesota corn farmers invest about $4 million annually in agricultural and environmental research. The U of M conducts most of that research.

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This week’s Gophers Farm Family of the Game works to protect water and soil resources

The Schoenrock family will be the MCGA Homegrown Farm Family of the Game when the Gophers play Ohio on Saturday.

The Schoenrock family will be the MCGA Homegrown Farm Family of the Game when the Gophers play Ohio on Saturday.

Leon Schoenrock has been farming for 32 years. Over that time, he’s worked to improve his conservation efforts and seen many of his fellow farmers do the same.

Leon, his wife Beth, and their two children will be honored during Saturday’s Minnesota Gophers football game at TCF Bank Stadium as the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) Homegrown Farm Family of the Game.

This is the third season that MCGA has partnered with Gophers football to recognize a homegrown Farm Family of the Game during all home football games. Families are selected not only for their commitment to growing food, feed, fiber and fuel for an increasing world population, but also for their dedication to protecting land, soil and water resources.

“As farmers, we’re always looking for ways to conserve our water and soil resources,” said Leon, who grows corn and soybeans near New Richland in Waseca County. “There are new ways to make that work that a lot of farmers are trying out.”

For example, Leon follows best management practices (BMPs) developed by the University of Minnesota for applying nitrogen fertilizer to his fields. By following the U of M’s BMPs, Leon helps ensure that the fertilizer he applies is used by the crop and does not run off into nearby waterways.

Soil testing also helps Leon apply the proper amount of fertilizer and protect nearby water quality. Grass waterways are planted in highly erodible sections of his fields and conservation tillage is used to reduce erosion and maintain as much natural organic matter in the soil as possible.

“We’re proud of the steps we take to protect the soil and water,” Leon said. “We’re also active in organizations that try to protect the river and other waterways.”

Leon is a third-generation farmer. He also does drainage contracting. Beth teaches physical education at New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva schools. Betsy, 15, plays volleyball and basketball and Benjamin, 11, plays basketball and baseball.

“We’re proud of our family farm,” Leon said. “Saturday is going to be a good time.”

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5 reasons college students should love ethanol

Tim Rasmussen

Tim Rasmussen

As a corn farmer’s son from a family farm in Northwest Minnesota, we are proud to be corn farmers and proud to provide food, fiber and fuel for Minnesota. I want to focus why our corn can provide fuel for Minnesota. The corn we grow is used to make a cleaner-burning, homegrown and renewable fuel called ethanol.

I am a senior at North Dakota State University, home of the Bison, majoring in Agriculture Economics and preparing for the upcoming “real world” next spring. Here at college, my fellow students do not know as much about ethanol fuel as I thought, even at a rural agriculture-based college.

So, fellow college students: As part of my duties as a Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) Student Agvocate, I feel it’s my job to help you learn more about ethanol.

To start, here are five reasons my fellow college students should love ethanol fuel. Hopefully, this post will encourage some conversations and provide a better idea of how ethanol affects you daily and why it’s beneficial.

  1. Ethanol is less expensive than gasoline. Yes fellow frugal students, it is less expensive. Less money out of pocket for filling your fuel tank. All regular unleaded fuel sold in the United States already contains 10 percent ethanol. Your fuel tank right now has ethanol in it. There’s also fuel blends to increase the percent of ethanol in your gasoline to lower the price even more. E85, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, is for use in flex-fuel vehicles and costs significantly less than regular unleaded. I personally used E85 in all of my summer travels, saving 40-60 cents per gallon.
  2. Ethanol improves air quality. MCGA works closely with the American Lung Association of Minnesota for this reason. Clean Air Choice is the motto for E85 ethanol fuel. According to the Department of Energy, the use of corn ethanol reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline, even when hypothetical land use emissions are considered.
  3. FlexIncreasing access to ethanol fuel. It was recently announced that a USDA grant will be combined with funding from a coalition that includes MCGA to install 625 new flex-fuel pumps in Minnesota. I personally use websites such as and to find flex-fuel pumps on my travels. Always check your vehicle owner’s manual to know how high of a blend is acceptable. I also suggest using this website to find out if your vehicle is a flex-fuel vehicle.
  4. Supporting Minnesota grown products. It’s important to support the local economy. Ethanol is grown in Minnesota corn fields and produced at 21 20 ethanol plants in Minnesota. Ethanol production also provides many great co-products for livestock feed, corn sweeteners, and corn oil.
  5. Ethanol produced locally is less risky than dependency on foreign oil. We don’t drill for ethanol in environmentally sensitive areas or rely on countries that are not friendly to the United States like we do for oil. Minnesota’s ethanol industry provides thousands of local jobs and pays over $10.3 billion dollars in state and federal tax revenue that goes toward projects that benefit you.

I hope one of the five reasons will entice you to find a flex-fuel retailer and fill up with ethanol and support Minnesota’s corn farmers. Remember, if you’re not sure which stations offer higher ethanol blends, I encourage you to look up

If you have additional questions, our MinnesotaCornerstone blog is an excellent resource.

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Taiwan trade delegation visits Minnesota farm, signs letter of intent to purchase U.S. corn

The Taiwan trade team delegation in front of a corn field on the Toquam family farm.

The Taiwan trade team delegation in front of a corn field on the Toquam family farm.

Before an agriculture goodwill trade mission team participated in a signing ceremony in Minneapolis, they stopped at the Roger Toquam family farm on Sunday near Blooming Prairie to see firsthand what Minnesota agriculture is all about.

Roger and his family are fourth-generation farmers who grow corn and soybeans and raise hogs. The Toquams also incorporate several conservation practices like buffer strips, wetlands restoration and manure management plants to protect area land, soil and water resources.

“Hosting groups like this one is a tremendous opportunity to showcase the good work of Minnesota farmers and strengthen relationships with our foreign customers,” Toquam said. “It was a great visit.”

The Toquam family provided an in-depth tour and overview of their operation, answering questions along the way. There was even an opportunity for the Taiwan team to take selfies in the corn and soybean fields and climb up into the seat of a combine and tractor.

On Monday afternoon, the Taiwan delegation signed a letter of intent during a ceremony in Minneapolis to purchase a large amount of U.S. corn in 2016-17. Participants in the ceremony included Gov. Mark Dayton, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) President Bruce Peterson.

Roger Toquam interviewing with local media during the tour on Sunday.

Roger Toquam interviewing with local media during the tour on Sunday.

For the 2014-15 marketing year, Taiwan was the sixth-largest market for U.S. corn and a top buyer for U.S. distillers dried grains (DDGS), a high-protein by-product of the ethanol-making process that is used as a livestock feed.

The Taiwan team visit wrapped up a busy month for MCGA hosting foreign trade teams. A Middle Eastern and North Africa team visited a farm in Western Minnesota last weekend and a DDGS team from Japan met with MCGA researchers at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 14.


That's MCGA President Bruce Peterson in the center signing a letter of intent on Monday with the Taiwan delegation. Gov. Mark Dayton is on the far right.

That’s MCGA President Bruce Peterson in the center signing a letter of intent on Monday with the Taiwan delegation. Gov. Mark Dayton is on the far right.

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Conservation-minded farm family to be honored during Saturday’s Gophers football game

The Dana Blume family from Elbow Lake, Minn., will be honored as the MCGA Homegrown Farm Family of the Game when the Gophers play Kent St. on Saturday.

The Dana Blume family from Elbow Lake, Minn., will be honored as the MCGA Homegrown Farm Family of the Game when the Gophers play Kent St. on Saturday.

Dana Blume is proud of his family farm near Elbow Lake, Minn. On Saturday, Blume’s pride will be on display in front of a packed TCF Bank Stadium when Dana, his wife Katy, and their four children are honored as the Minnesota Corn Growers Farm Family of the Game when the Gophers take on Kent State.

Dana is a third-generation farmer and has grown corn, soybeans and sugar beets since 1996. His grandfather owned the local John Deere dealership and farming has always been in Dana’s blood.

“I always wanted to farm,” Dana says. “As a kid growing up, it’s what I dreamed of doing.”

This is the third season that the Minnesota Corn Growers Association has partnered with Gophers football to recognize a homegrown Farm Family of the Game during all home football games. Families are selected not only for their commitment to growing food, feed, fiber and fuel for an increasing world population, but also for their dedication to protecting land, soil and water resources.

“My kids swim in nearby lakes. We drink the water,” Dana says. “We do as much as we can to protect our health and the health of the people on down the line.”

The list of conservation practices Dana uses on his farm is long:

  • Land sections are set aside through USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program to increase wildlife habitat and natural areas.
  • Perennial vegetation along the edges of waterways act as buffers to stop soil and fertilizer runoff from nearby fields from entering streams and rivers.
  • Blume applies fertilizer at a variable rate, which allows him to use less fertilizer and deliver it to the crop when it needs it most during the growing season.
  • Tile drainage outlets and inlets are effectively managed to significantly reduce the amount of soil sediment and nutrients entering waterways.
  • Conservation tillage techniques allow Blume to maintain natural organic matter in his soil and prevent erosion during large rain events.

“It all makes a difference,” Blume says. “It’s important that we preserve this land and everything around it for the next generation.”

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. Saturday is also Celebrate Ag & Food Day at TCF Bank Stadium. Look for the Minnesota Corn Growers, along with other farm groups and agribusinesses, out and about promoting Minnesota agriculture before, during and after the game.

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