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Staying healthy in the time of COVID-19

By Liz Stahl, Extension Educator – Crops and Phyllis Bongard, Educational Content Development & Communications Specialist

Farmers and those working throughout the agricultural supply chain will soon be in the midst of the 2020 planting season. Staying healthy during this time is particularly critical as the optimal planting window is only so wide and it can be extremely weather dependent. It may be very difficult to find trained replacement labor if one were to fall ill during this time. Many farmers are also at an age that puts them at higher risk from a COVID-19 infection. 

For personal safety and to maintain a COVID-19 free labor force, farmers and all who are in the agricultural supply chain are encouraged to follow measures suggested by health officials:

Follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines of washing hands, limiting travel and social distancing.

Don’t work through an infection due to the serious risks this disease poses and the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

The article “2020 Planting Decisions in the Face of COVID-19”, by the University of Illinois, further discusses the importance of maintaining a healthy farming work force (https://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2020/03/2020-planting-decisions-in-the-face-of-covid-19.html). 

Attend a webinar for producers and ag professionals 

The Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH) is hosting a webinar, “What Ag Producers Need to Know About COVID-19” on Monday, March 23, at noon (12:00 PM CDT). The intended audience is agricultural producers, ranchers, farmers, farmworkers, veterinarians, Extension personnel, rural health care providers, and others who work in agriculture. Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms, transmission risks and how to reduce them. There is no cost to attend the program.


In Response to Produce Shortages, the Fruit Truck Is Extending Its Season and Will Return to Slayton With Fresh-Picked Florida Strawberries

In response to produce shortages caused by the COVID-19 situation, The Fruit Truck is extending its strawberry delivery season and bringing more fresh-picked Florida strawberries to Slayton.

“There is a lot of uncertainty right now. With empty shelves and produce shortages in local grocery stores, we want to do everything we can to continue to make fresh fruit available to our customers,” said Irina Kleinsasser, CEO of The Fruit Truck. “Our food is safe. Our strawberries are only handled by the farmer who picks them, and our truck drivers are food-safe certified by the FDA.”

Fresh-picked Florida strawberries from The Fruit Truck will be delivered to Prairie Pride Cenex (3020 20th St) in Slayton on Monday, Mar. 30th from 11:45 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. Customers are asked to reserve strawberries online at MyFruitTruck.com and pick them up at the truck when it comes to town. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ups are welcome.

“Our delivery stops are outdoors in large, open-air spaces. This is safer than a store environment, allowing our customers to distance themselves from others,” Kleinsasser said.

The Fruit Truck, which is based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, works with farmers that hand-pick and ship the best fruit from their orchards to communities across the country in order to bring fresh, flavorful produce directly to local families.

The Fruit Truck is extending deliveries to over one hundred communities in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Delivery schedules for each state can be found at MyFruitTruck.com.


MCC Distance Learning Plan

INTRODUCTION

As we navigate these unprecedented times, please know that we are committed to continue serving the educational needs of our students. What we think of as school will look very different for your child in the coming days. A combination of online instruction and packet work will make up much of the delivery of instruction. Teachers will continue checking in and monitoring the progress of their students each day. We understand parent concerns regarding this plan and will work with you to help make this transition as smooth as possible. Murray County Central is committed to providing flexibility of delivery along with meaningful and manageable tasks/projects to meet the educational standards.

DISTANCE LEARNING PLATFORMS AT MCC

The following Online Platforms are the communication tools used to contact and communicate with MCC families, PreK-12.

1. Thrillshare Alert System, District Website, the District Facebook page, the MCC app, JMC, JMCParent Portal, and student/parent email are the communication tools used to contact and communicatewith MCC families, PreK-12.

2. Elementary School Distance Learning Platforms (PreK-6): Packets, Google Classroom, Zoom

3. High School Distance Learning Platforms (7-12): Google Classroom, Zoom, Google Hangout, GoogleMeet.

4. Faculty online collaboration platforms for remote instructional planning: Google Hangout, Zoom, Google Meet

In addition to the above resources, we encourage faculty, students, and parents to email info@mcc.mntm.org or call and leave a message at 507-836-1779 for any tech related questions. This email account and phone number are managed by our Tech Support Team.


Junior Achievement now offering online learning resources for parents and teachers

Free financial literacy, work and career readiness, and entrepreneurship programs for students in grades K-12

St. Paul, Minn. – Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM) is now providing free online resources for teachers and parents to keep our children engaged, inspired, and educationally challenged. In response to the COVID-19 guidelines, the organization quickly enhanced its digital program portfolio to make select programs and lessons available to the public.

Parents will find a variety of free financial literacy, work and career readiness, and entrepreneurship resources that children can do on their own, with a parent or other caring adult. K-12 educators can also access new and existing JA programs through the national JA USA Learning Management System. There may be no better time than today to equip our children with the tools needed to make smart financial choices as they experience these tumultuous economic times.

Junior Achievement’s experiential programs teach students in grades K-12 how to manage money, prepare for a successful career, think innovatively, and start businesses that create jobs. Programs are age-appropriate, hands-on, and engaging.

Junior Achievement has responded in innovative ways to support our local community and throughout the world as we transition to a virtual learning environment.

“Now is a perfect time for Junior Achievement to connect with our young people via technology, allowing them to keep learning and planning for their future,” said Gina Blayney, President & CEO of JAUM. “Junior Achievement is opening up our digital learning platform in innovative ways to give teachers and parents tools to teach in a virtual environment.”

To access Junior Achievement’s free online learning programs, visit www.jaum.org/resources. Visitors will be asked to complete a short registration form. Junior Achievement’s entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness programs are delivered nationwide, typically in classrooms during the school day by volunteer role models from the local business community.


USDA Launches New Conservation Pilot Program for Prairie Pothole Producers to Plant Cover Crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced a new pilot program that enables farmers in Prairie Pothole states to receive payments for planting cover crops on their land for three to five years. The new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) pilot is available to producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The signup for this pilot starts March 30, 2020 and ends August 21. 

Through SHIPP, producers have the option of three-, four- or five-year CRP contracts to establish cover crops on less productive cropland in exchange for payments. This pilot enables producers to plant cover crops that, among other benefits, will improve soil health and water quality while having the option to harvest, hay and graze during certain times of the year. Up to 50,000 acres can be enrolled. 

Cover crops, whether used in a single crop rotation or over multiple years, can improve the productivity of soils and soil health on a farm for generations and increase the bottom line for the farmer. Soil health, or soil quality, by definition, is the capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans.  

The SHIPP pilot is the latest option in a full suite of opportunities available to producers through CRP and other conservation programs offered by USDA. Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to talk to their FSA county office soon about whether this pilot fits their operation or consider another longer-term option such as the CRP General signup that ends February 28 or CRP Continuous signup that is ongoing.

For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp and contact your local office. To find your local USDA Service Center office, visit https://www.farmers.gov/service-locator.


Soil health case studies share farmer experiences  

WILLMAR, Minn. (03/17/2020)—Farmers and landowners can learn about the soil health journeys of southern Minnesota farmers in a new report, “Soil Health Case Studies 2020.” 

University of Minnesota research assistant Aidan Read visited farms and interviewed farmers in late 2019 to develop case study profiles of nine farms. The farmers featured in the case studies were selected with the help of the Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) based on their extensive experiences incorporating soil health practices for five years or more. 

The farmers featured in the study represent a range of acreage and crops, each with specific circumstances and unique operations. All the farmers volunteered their expertise and time to serve as a resource for other farmers.

“As these successful farm management practices become more common, stories like these provide the inspiration farmers need to develop an optimistic view of their own farm futures,” said Theresa Keaveny, executive director of the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. 

The practices described in the case studies center on five soil health principles: keeping the soil covered, integrating livestock, minimizing soil disturbance, keeping a living root in the soil, and using a diverse crop rotation. With farmers at the forefront, these stories of soil health are meant to offer tangible examples, support, and encouragement across the landscape.

According to Dean Current, program director for University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management, “We plan to expand our network and ability to make these case studies available in electronic form to more farmers and natural resource professionals as they promote and weigh options for adopting soil health practices.”

This is the second set of case studies in a series started in 2018. The project is a partnership among University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management (CINRAM), University of Minnesota Extension’s Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, and SFA. “This second edition of soil health case studies will help educate and inspire farmers to incorporate soil health practices, cover crops and livestock and how they can be used to minimize risk and improve farm management,” said Keaveny.

Soil Health Case Studies 2020 is available online at z.umn.edu/SoilHealthCaseStudies2020 or www.sfa-mn.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2020-Case-Studies-Draft-FINAL.pdf.


Good News

By: John Stenen

 A little girl was told by a friend that the moon was made out of green cheese. Not knowing if that was true or not, she asked her father. He said, “Well honey, I suggest you go and read and study it out for yourself to see whether it is true or not.” The little girl was a Christian so her source of information was the Bible. After a while, she came into the room where her father was and with a look of triumph she said, “The moon is not made of green cheese. The Bible says that the moon was created on the fourth day, and the cows were not made until the sixth day. Therefore, the moon can not be made of green cheese.”

There are so many things that we could not possibly know in life if it were not for the revelations that God has given us in His Word. For example:  How did we get here?  Big bang theory? Something crawled out of the water and the evolution process began? How did the big bang come about? Where did the water and earth come from? Where is all the evidence of evolution of humans and animals? Are we separated from God - if there is a God? How can we be reconciled to God and become His child? Why are we here on earth?  What is our purpose? What is the future of mankind? Is there a heaven and a hell? Why is there so much good in the world, and yet, so much evil?  The Bible gives us answers to all of this and much more.

Romans 13: lets us know that God is the ultimate authority, even over the governments of the world. God gave us government for the good of the people. It’s people who, because of selfishness make government corrupt. We all make choices as to who or what will be the authority in our lives. Millions have chosen to believe that our earth only has about twelve years to survive because some politicians have said so. However, in Genesis 8: after Noah and his family departed from the Ark, God said to him in verse 22: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”  I would hope that you would decide to allow God and His Word to be the authority in your life.  Jesus offers you eternal life today;  too many have put it off until it became too late for them. God bless.