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RESCHEDULED: Dairy Revenue Protection vs New Farm Bill Workshop

Melissa Runck is an Extension Educator-Ag Production Systems with University of Minnesota Extension in Murray and Pipestone Counties.

Dairy producers, ag lenders, and anyone interested in learning about the new Farm Bill’s Dairy Margin Coverage program should make plans to attend a short workshop in Pipestone, Minnesota on Monday, March 11 (make-up date) from 9:30-11:30 am at the Pipestone Minnesota West Campus, Room 127.  

This two-hour workshop will compare the new Farm Bill’s Dairy Margin Coverage and Farm Bureau’s Dairy Revenue Protection program and how they compare to the old Margin Protection Program.  Extension Educators will use spreadsheets and other tools to analyze the differences between the programs.  The new Farm Bureau’s Dairy Revenue Protection program, which works similar to a crop insurance product that provided quarterly coverage, will also be discussed.  Prices for the different coverage levels and the pounds of coverage will be examined, and Regional Extension Educators will be available to help determine which program is best for your dairy.

The pros and cons of each program will be highlighted. Knowing your cost of production is important, which is why tools to help calculate that cost will be shown.  Nathan Hulinsky, Extension Educator explains, “With the current state of milk prices and the farm economy, maintaining profits is tricky.  There are tools out there to help dairy farmers set a floor for their milk price, we want to highlight them.” 

There is no cost to attend this program, but an RSVP is appreciated.  Please contact the Pipestone County Extension Office at 507-825-1190 if you are planning to attend or have any questions regarding the program. 

Connect Wireless Completes Acquisition of Pro Cellular

Becomes the second largest AT&T Authorized Retailer in the United States.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: March 1, 2019 — Connect Wireless, an AT&T Authorized Retailer, has announced the successful acquisition of Pro Cellular out of Slayton, Minnesota. Pro Cellular owns and operates 21 retail stores in the upper Midwest. With this successful acquisition, Connect Wireless now owns 118 retail stores across the United States, making it the second largest AT&T Authorized Retailer.

“We are incredibly excited to announce the acquisition of Pro Cellular into the Connect Wireless portfolio,” said Dave Stearns, Founder and CEO of Connect Wireless. “Our strategy on performance and growth will only get stronger as we go forward. We couldn’t be more proud of our existing team as well as our new members as we continue to evolve into one of the strongest partners for AT&T.”

Even though the organization has maintained a pattern of strategic growth, Connect Wireless remains focused on providing a premiere customer experience in both wireless and entertainment services. 

“It’s our goal to provide the best possible experience for our employees and customers, as we continue to partner and grow with AT&T across the nation,” said Chad Disney, COO of Connect Wireless. “We’re excited to add the exceptional Pro Cell team to the Connect family and look forward to continued growth in the Northern Plains market.”


Founded in 2002, Connect Wireless opened its first store in Boise, Idaho. They quickly expanded into the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest markets. Seventeen years later, Connect Wireless now proudly operates in 11 different states in the country.



CHANDLER, MN – (March 1, 2019) – The Monogram Loves Kids Foundation will award over $350,000 to charitable organizations that sponsor programs benefiting children and their families in the eight regional areas in which Monogram does business, including Chandler, MN.

Registered 501(c)3 public organizations interested in applying for these grants, which will range from $500 to $10,000, should visit to access the application form. All applications must be mailed in to the address listed on the application by Friday, May 31st 2019 at 5PM CST. All applicants must be located within 100 miles of Monogram Meat Snacks, located at 521 N 5th Street, Chandler, MN 56122.

A committee of team members at the Monogram Meat Snacks plant will review the grant applications from Chandler area organizations.

The Monogram Loves Kids Foundation was founded in 2010 as Monogram Foods’ charitable fund to raise money for children’s charities in areas of the country where Monogram team members live and work. Between 2010 and 2018, Monogram has donated over $1.5 million to charities focused on children and their families.

About Monogram Foods: Monogram Foods is a major co-packer and private label provider for strategic partners throughout the nation. Monogram collaborates with key partners to create processes that bring new foods demanded by a modern marketplace. Monogram Foods is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn. and operates facilities in Iowa, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Founded in 2004 with the purchase of King Cotton and Circle B brand meats from Sara Lee Corporation, Monogram Foods manufactures and markets top-quality food products. Among these are a full range of meat snacks, corn dogs, pre-cooked bacon, smoked sausage, appetizers, sandwiches, pet treats and other value-added meats.

Monogram Foods’ brands include Wild Bill’s, O’Brien’s, Trail’s Best, Hannah’s, Bull’s, Snapps, King Cotton, Circle B and licensed brands Bass Pro Shop’s Uncle Buck’s, Johnsonville, Butterball and Team Realtree.


Plumbing Technology Program to be offered on the Minnesota West Pipestone Campus

Minnesota West Community & Technical College will offer the Plumbing Technology Program on the Pipestone Campus, Fall semester of 2019. Program options for plumbing will include a 45 credit diploma program and a 60 credit A.A.S. Degree option for students to choose from.

The Plumbing Technology Program prepares students for work in all phases of plumbing using a variety of hand and power tool skills. Course work includes training in assembly, installation and repair of pipes, fittings and fixtures which make up water supply or waste disposal systems. Minnesota State plumbing apprenticeship and other certification is attained upon completion of the program. 

The Plumbing Technology graduate studies building plans and working drawings to determine work aids and plans the sequence of installation according to print specifications and codes. 

The majority of plumbers enter the trade as apprentices, working toward journeyman and master status in residential, commercial and industrial work. Plumbers work in various sized shops in many communities and employment exists nationwide.

Paul Lanoue, Dean of Agriculture and Business states, “Minnesota West has a proud tradition of responding to the workforce needs of our region.  With this in mind we are excited to be bringing the Plumbing program to the Pipestone Campus of Minnesota West in the Fall of 2019.  Job openings and demand is expected to be very strong in the next 10 years with faster than average growth in the industry.  Our tuition is affordable and our program allows students to be earning a quality wage in a short timeframe.”

For additional information about the program or to apply visit or call 800-658-2330.


How Families Today are Paying for College

(StatePoint) The way families pay for college is a good indicator of how much planning takes place before the first tuition bill arrives. A new study by Sallie Mae suggests that while families are feeling confident in their decision making, nearly 40 percent do not have a plan to pay for college.

Last year, family income and savings covered 47 percent of all college expenses, according to “How America Pays for College 2018,” the national study from Sallie Mae -- the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company -- and Ipsos, an independent global market research company.

 The annual report examines how families pay for college, how much they spent, and how they made their funding decisions. The average amount spent on college in 2017-18 was $26,458. 

While income and savings cover the largest portion of college costs, scholarships and grants cover 28 percent of college costs, and students and parents use loans to account for 24 percent of college costs. Extended family and friends paid an additional 2 percent of college costs.

While no single resource is used by all families, the most prevalent college funding sources -- scholarships, grants, and parent income -- are each used by about three in five families, with scholarships being the single most-used resource. In addition, 57 percent of families used scholarships last year, paying for almost a fifth of total college costs. Unfortunately, about a third of families don’t even apply for scholarship opportunities.

More than half of families, 53 percent, borrowed money to help pay for college last year and two-thirds of these families said they had always planned to borrow to pay for college. When it comes to planning to repay loans, however, 39 percent of families say they haven’t researched any repayment topics.

“It’s gratifying that families are so confident in the financial decisions they make regarding paying for college,” says Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “Still, there’s more work to do to equip families with the tools and information that will help them manage education expenses, whether it be applying for financial aid earlier in the process or taking steps to minimize student loan financing costs.”

When it comes to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, (FAFSA), three-quarters of families report filing the form last year. However, the majority of them are not taking advantage of the earlier availability of the form: 69 percent of families are waiting until January or later to complete the FAFSA, which is now available on Oct. 1, and are potentially missing out on aid that’s awarded first-come, first-served.

The complete report and other resources are available at To join the conversation, use #HowAmericaPays. For more information, or to start your plan to pay for college, visit

Experts say that with the right tools and knowledge, families can develop a smart strategy for paying for college.


Minnesota West Community & Technical College Will Host The Diesel Xtravaganza

(Canby, MN) – Minnesota West Community & Technical College Canby Campus will host the Diesel Xtravaganza event on Thursday, March 21, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. check-in at the Diesel Technology building. Program shadowing is available from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. during the Xtravaganza. During program shadowing students are able to choose one or more of the following programs to explore, Diesel Technology, Dental Assistant, Electrician and Wind Energy Technology. There will also be a burger feed open to the public 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. in the Diesel Technology Building.

To register or find out more information about the Xtravaganza, visit or call 800-658-2330. This event is open to the public.


USDA Offers Blizzard Recovery Assistance

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following blizzards or other qualifying natural disasters.  

Available programs and loans include:

• Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) - provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters including freeze, excessive wind and moisture. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2018 crops. A notice of loss must be filed within 15 calendar days of when the loss is apparent or 15 calendar days after the normal harvest date.

• Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) - offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible losses may include those determined by FSA to have been caused by wildfires, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tropical storms, tornados, lightning, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.

• Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers for qualifying tree, shrub and vine losses due to natural disasters including excessive wind and qualifying drought. 

• Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) - provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. ELAP covers physically damaged or destroyed livestock feed that was purchased or mechanically harvested forage or feedstuffs intended for use as feed for the producer’s eligible livestock. In order to be considered eligible, harvested forage must be baled; forage that is only cut, raked or windrowed is not eligible. ELAP also covers up to 150 lost grazing days in instances when a producer has been forced to remove livestock from a grazing pasture and for beekeepers, ELAP covers colony losses. Producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent.

• Emergency Loan Program – available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Presidential or Secretarial disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses.

• Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - provides emergency funding for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate land severely damaged by natural disasters; includes fence loss.

• HayNet - is an Internet-based Hay and Grazing Net Ad Service allowing farmers and ranchers to share ‘Need Hay’ ads and ‘Have Hay’ ads online. Farmers also can use another feature to post advertisements for grazing land, specifically ads announcing the availability of grazing land or ads requesting a need for land to graze.


Flood Insurance – Are you Covered?

Anyone in Murray County, outside the municipalities, is eligible to obtain flood insurance.  AND those with property within the following municipalities:  Avoca and Chandler, may also obtain flood insurance.   Check with your insurance agent to make sure you get the coverage you need.   

Myth:  “My Agent said I can’t get flood insurance since I’m not in the floodplain.”

Reality:  That is NOT true. You can get flood insurance in any zone!

Myth: I have homeowner’s insurance!  Doesn’t that cover flooding?”

Reality:  Most likely “no” (but ask your insurance agent just in case).

Myth:  “If there’s a devastating or damaging flood, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will cover it.”

Reality:  It’s not a given that FEMA will cover any damage caused by a flood.  That takes a federal disaster declaration including individual assistance.

There is a 30-day waiting period before any new flood insurance policy takes effect.  Based on this information, the time is now to contact your insurance agent to determine whether you need a flood insurance policy for your buildings and contents.  A policy issued on March 1st would be effective April 1st.

If you’re thinking that it seems silly to buy flood insurance every year, and “If they predict a big storm, I’ll buy flood insurance then.”, remember, it doesn’t work that way.  There is a 30-day waiting period before a new flood insurance policy becomes active.  Don’t gamble.  Call your insurance agent and get a good flood insurance policy.  So, when all of this record-breaking snow melts and the rains come, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home and your possessions are protected.

Go to for more information.