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Nobles’ Operation Round Up Application Deadline Is Drawing Near

Apply for Operation Round Up funds today!

A local school needs to provide books for underprivileged students. A local hospice needs new equipment and a local fire department needs to raise money for pagers. You see these types of stories on the news and read them in the papers. What have they all got in common? Thanks to Nobles Cooperative Electric’s Operation Round Up program, the answer to this question is “help in time of need.” 

Nobles Cooperative Electric members help their neighbors a penny, nickel, dime and quarter at a time through Operation Round Up (ORU). Thanks to the generosity of Nobles’ members, a lot of good work is done for the communities we live in. Operation Round Up is a community program of people helping people. Through this voluntary program, approximately 69 percent of the members of Nobles Cooperative Electric have elected to have their electric bills rounded up to the nearest dollar. As a group, Nobles Cooperative Electric members raise about $1,800 per month. These Round Up funds go into a trust fund. Nobles-Murray Rural Electric Trust Board administers the donations. 

Operation Round Up is designed to provide financial assistance to non-profit organizations in the surrounding communities of Murray, Nobles and adjacent counties. Organizations that serve these communities can request funds for projects involving:

Community Service

Economic Development

Education and Youth


Disaster Relief

The trust board is currently accepting applications. The deadline for submitting applications is March 1. Call Nobles Cooperative Electric at 507-372-7331 or 836-6107, visit our website ( or email to request an application. 

Nobles Cooperative Electric is a rural electric cooperative that serves approximately 6,800 members in Nobles and Murray Counties. We’re your good neighbor!

Small Grain Winter Workshops

The University of Minnesota Extension is offering four Small Grain Winter Workshops in Central, Western, and Southern MN in February to address small grain production.   

Row crop farming brings busy spring and fall workloads.  There are also pests common to row crops, including herbicide resistant weeds, soybean cyst nematodes, soybean aphid, diseases and corn rootworm.  Small grains added to a rotation may offer opportunities to diversity cropping systems in central and southern Minnesota to manage these challenges and lower production costs.  This program is designed to help farmers determine if small grains can work on their farm, in their rotation, and if it can be sustainable over time.  This program will provide the tools needed to make small grains a successful crop in their operation. This includes information on production agronomics, variety selection, disease identification, fungicide use, fertility, quality, equipment, and economics. Time will be set aside for open forum to discuss related topics and on farm experiences.

Dates, Locations, Times and Contacts are as follows:

Monday, February 19 – New Prague, State Bank of New Prague Community Center 10:00 - 2:00 (Contact Shane Bugeja at 515-708-3486)

Wednesday, February 21 – Cold Spring, Great Blue Heron, 10:30 – 2:30 (Contact Joe Krippner at 320-980-2915)

Thursday, February 22 - Slayton, Murray County 4H-Building, Event Hall, 12:30 – 4:00 (Contact: Melissa Runck at 507-836-6927). 

* The Strategic Farming – Growing Soybeans that Out-compete weeds Workshop will precede the small grains program from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and includes lunch. For details and to register for the Strategic Farming program please visit:      

Friday, February 23 - Benson, McKinney’s on Southside, 10:00 – 2:30 (Contact: Scott Lee at 320-760-6129).

Presenters will vary by location and include Jochum Wiersma, University of Minnesota Extension Small Grain Specialist and Jared Goplen, University of Minnesota Extension Crops Educator.

Lunch is included at all sites. No registration is necessary unless lunch is desired in Slayton. Please register for lunch in Slayton by visiting

For more information or to receive a brochure contact Jared Goplen at 320-589-1711 x2128 or


Farmers - Get Nitrogen Smart!

 Ag producers and ag professionals are invited to attend a training program called Nitrogen Smart.  This program presents the fundamentals for maximizing economic return on nitrogen investments while minimizing nitrogen losses. 

Nitrogen Smart is an educational program designed to provide tools to evaluate nitrogen fertilizer options.  The program is being offered through a partnership between University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Corn Growers, and the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center.  The three hour program will be offered across Minnesota, with a program being held in Pipestone on February 26.  Pre-registration is not required and there is no registration fee.

Nitrogen Smart  will deliver high-quality, research-based information to educate producers on:

-Sources of nitrogen (N) for crops

- How nitrogen is lost from soil and how you can reduce losses

- How to manage nitrogen in drainage systems

- What the new Nutrient Reduction Strategy and Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan mean for Minnesota producers

- Practices to refine nitrogen management, including split applications, alternative N fertilizers, soil and tissue testing and N models

Nitrogen Smart will be offered in Pipestone on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. at Minnesota West Community & Technical College, Room 0127, 1314 North Hiawatha Avenue.

Attendees will receive Nitrogen Smart designation, which will be good for three years.  There is no cost to attend due to generous support from Minnesota Corn Growers.  For more information and exact locations visit:  Contact the Pipestone County Extension Office at 507-825-1190 for questions regarding the Nitrogen Smart workshop in Pipestone. 

FSA Offers Joint Financing Option on Direct Farm Ownership Loans

The USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Direct Farm Ownership loans are a resource to help farmers and ranchers become owner-operators of family farms, improve and expand current operations, increase agricultural productivity, and assist with land tenure to save farmland for future generations. 

Depending on the applicant’s needs, there are three types of Direct Farm Ownership Loans: regular, down payment and joint financing. FSA also offers a Direct Farm Ownership Microloan option for smaller financial needs up to $50,000. 

Joint financing allows FSA to provide more farmers and ranchers with access to capital. FSA lends up to 50 percent of the total amount financed. A commercial lender, a State program or the seller of the property being purchased, provides the balance of loan funds, with or without an FSA guarantee. The maximum loan amount for a Joint Financing loan is $300,000 and the repayment period for the loan is up to 40 years.

To be eligible, the operation must be an eligible farm enterprise. Farm Ownership loan funds cannot be used to finance nonfarm enterprises and all applicants must be able to meet general eligibility requirements. Loan applicants are also required to have participated in the business operations of a farm or ranch for at least three years out of the 10 years prior to the date the application is submitted. The applicant must show documentation that their participation in the business operation of the farm or ranch was not solely as a laborer. 

For more information about FSA Loan programs, contact your local FSA office or visit To find your local FSA office, visit

FSA Payment Limitations by Program

The 2014 Farm Bill established a maximum dollar amount for each program that can be received annually, directly or indirectly, by each person or legal entity. Payment limitations vary by program for 2014 through 2018. 

Below is an overview of payment limitations by program. 

Commodity and Price Support Programs

The annual limitation for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) and Market Loan Gains is $125,000 total. 

Conservation Programs

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) annual rental payment and incentive payment is limited to $50,000. CRP contracts approved before Oct. 1, 2008, may exceed the limitation, subject to payment limitation rules in effect on the date of contract approval.  

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) has an annual limit of $200,000 per disaster event. The Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) has an annual limit of $500,000 per disaster event. 

Disaster Assistance Programs

The annual limitation of $125,000 applies to the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). The total payments received under ELAP, LFP and LIP may not exceed $125,000. A separate limitation of $125,000 applies to Tree Assistance Program (TAP) payments. There is also a separate $125,000 payment limit for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).

Payment limitations also apply to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs. Contact your local NRCS office more information. 

For more information on FSA payment limitations by program, visit 

Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership in Slayton Receives Grant for Local Energy Project

Community-focused clean energy effort will take shape throughout 2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 – It is an energizing start to 2018 for Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership in Slayton who received a $5,000 Seed Grant from the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) today.

“We’re very excited to learn about the grant award,” said Lisa Graphenteen. “We can’t wait to get started on our project, Residential Blower Door Testing.”

SWMHP recently began to offer blower door testing as a line of business when new building code regulations went into effect that required testing on all new single family homes.  This data has provided useful information to identify potential issues with the energy efficiency of a home and to understand how our homes measure up when we are using green standards.  Through this grant we will conduct pre and post blower door testing on a minimum of 15 single family homes or small rental developments.

The award is one of 39 grants given to innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in communities across Minnesota. These awards mark the ninth round of Seed Grants from the group, totalling over $1 million to 300 projects since 2006. A complete list of funded projects can be accessed at  

“CERTs provides these Seed Grants with two primary objectives in mind,” said Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Director. “First, to encourage implementation of community-based clean energy projects across the state. Second, to provide an educational forum for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, community, and ecological benefits.”