Staff Directory 10645426

Tom Meersman

Reporter | Agriculture
phone: 612-673-7388
Tom Meersman covers farmers and farming.
Recent content from Tom Meersman
Mary and William Hanson

Bloomington husband and wife die within 24 hours of each other

Bill and Mary Hanson were buried together on what would have been their 53rd wedding anniversary.
Farmers have until Nov. 1 to comply with a state law requiring them to plant buffer strips along public waterways and ditches to control runoff from n

Farmers urge Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders to provide tax credits for buffer property

Farmers demand compensation for taking cropland out of production, but it's unclear where the money will come from.
O’Rourke

Mosaic Company reported lower sales volumes but higher sales revenue for quarter

Late spring planting and rail bottlenecks in Canada affected its earnings.
A wheat farm near Wolverton, Minn.

Rural Minnesotans frustrated over health costs, lack of broadband

Many rural Minnesotans feel left behind or ignored when it comes to challenges in everyday living.

Lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis questions attorney fees and conduct in Syngenta case

Corn growers accuse attorneys of "self-dealing."
A buffer strip of grass and trees along the Rock River west of Edgerton is an example of the protective strips that help filter runoff.

Proposed new penalty for Minnesota's buffer law decried by farmers, legislators and Gov. Dayton

State agency apologizes, says fines were meant to help with compliance.
Brothers Charlie Bares, left, Kent Cavender-Bares, center, and John Bares created the Minneapolis-based startup company Rowbot Systems.

Rowbots Systems help bring the future to farming

"Rowbots" can fertilize crops more efficiently and precisely, and hopefully in the future, plant some seeds.
A pivot irrigation system sprayed water onto a soybean crop just south of Park Rapids in Straight River Township in mid August. The Straight River is

Minnesota has millions at stake as China targets soybean exports

Minnesota is the nation's third largest producer of soybeans. The crop accounts for 30 percent of the state's agricultural exports. The state shipped more than $2 billion worth of soybeans abroad in 2016. More than half went to China.
various beans at Albert Lea Seed House

Albert Lea Seed House thrives as it adjusts to a changing farm industry

The third-generation company provides a wide variety of seeds that farmers can't find through co-ops.
Steve Carlson, with Carlson Farms, harvesedt soybeans in 2017 near Welch, Minn. Median farm income in the state has remained between $27,000 and $42,0

Minnesota median farm income down again

Low commodity prices caused another year of "slow bleeding" in 2017.
Customers shopped for pork at a supermarket in Beijing on Friday, the day China announced a $3 billion list of U.S. goods including pork, apples and s

China's volley in trade war may first hit hog farmers in Minnesota, Midwest

China's retaliatory moves to penalize pork, ethanol will have outsized impact in the state.

CHS sues ex-manager, claiming conflict of interest with Mexican grain broker

Officials said a former CHS grain marketer did not disclose his financial ties to a Mexican company.
Bruce Peterson, seen Friday on his farm in Northfield, said farmland prices have dropped, but the interest from buyers is still high.

Minn. farmland prices down in 2017, but they may be stabilizing

Prices for farmland declined across Minnesota in 2017, another sign of a weak farm economy that's been plagued by low crop prices and reduced incomes for the past four years.
George Farr

George Farr, DFL political leader and local theater performer, dies at age 93

George Farr had a gift for performing and carried it with him throughout a diverse life that included teaching, heading the state DFL Party during…

CHS sells headquarters campus for $55 million

The company will lease back the space from Trust Equity Funding.
Land O’Lakes CEO Chris Policinski at Land O’ Lakes headquarters on Feb. 24, 2016, in Arden Hills.

Diverse portfolio helps Land O'Lakes carve out record profit in lean times

Diverse portfolio helps Arden Hills co-op carve out record earnings in a weak farm economy.
Soybean farms like this one in Faribault have been swept into the trade debate. As one banker put it: Agriculture sometimes just “gets dragged into

Feb. 23: Minnesota farmers fear losing exports in trade dispute with China

Soybean growers, others have a lot at stake as trade rhetoric heats up and NAFTA negotiations founder.
O’Rourke

The Mosaic Company reported increased net sales for the fourth quarter, despite income loss

Higher fertilizer prices helped the Mosaic Co. increase net sales by 12 percent in its fourth quarter, although net income dropped because of the changes in U.S. tax legislation.
A look inside the sprawling Revol Greens greenhouse, where LED lights give off a purple hue amid the growing greens

Revol Greens is bringing Minnesota-grown lettuce year-round to Twin Cities

Revol Greens in Medford is using greenhouses to compete with lettuce trucked from warmer climes.

Bellisio Foods will shut down its Austin, Minn., frozen food plant

The Minneapolis company will consolidate its manufacturing in Ohio and California to improve efficiency.

One of Duke of Westminster's companies opens office in Minneapolis

Wheatsheaf Group, an investment firm, is looking to the Midwest for innovative solutions to global food challenges.
One of CoCo's locations is in the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.

CoCo will become Fueled Collective as it launches a new franchising effort in co-working

Company leaders say the franchise will mix co-working with the hospitality of a social club.
Gary Wertish, president of Minnesota Farmers Union, said low commodity prices and uncertainty on trade and immigration policy have hurt farmers across

Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish says 2018 pivotal year for agriculture

The Farmers Union represents about 10,000 farmer members in the state, and advocates for state and federal agricultural programs and policies.
CHS runs a grain operation in Savage. A provision in the new tax law favors cooperatives such as CHS over private firms. (AARON LAVINSKY/Star Tribune

'Unintended consequence' of new tax law could hurt Cargill, small grain elevators

Change gives farmers a break for selling to co-ops instead of private firms.
CHS' fuel business was a bright spot in its fiscal 2018 first quarter. (Provided photo)

CHS earnings down in first quarter of fiscal 2018

The nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative was helped by fuel business, affected by negative agriculture trends.
U.S. newsprint buyers fear that steep import duties of up to 50 percent could increase both Canadian and domestic ­newsprint prices.

Newsprint trade dispute causing heartburn for many U.S. newspapers, printers

A paper company in Washington state claims that Canada is selling the product at unfair trade prices, but others disagree.
Now may be an opportune time to seek a promotion or to make that next career move.

Career advisers say tight job market could be good time to switch companies

With the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, now may a good time for Minnesotans to think about changing jobs.
The results of the farm census, conducted every five years, affect everything from local road planning, to labor needs and school enrollments to the w

Farm census has big implications for states, rural areas

Upcoming farm census offers hard data, look at ways agriculture is shifting in the state.
In this July 11, 2017, file photo, East Arkansas farmer Reed Storey shows the damage to one of his soybean plants in Marvell, Ark. Storey said half of

Monsanto facing stricter rules nationally and in Minnesota for dicamba pesticide

Farmers are hoping that new pesticide restrictions will prevent a repeat of soybean damage in 2018.
Jack Goodwin

Jack Goodwin, longtime writer and editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, dies at age 91

Jack Goodwin started writing about sports at the Minneapolis Star newspaper right out of college, hired as a summer replacement. As he liked to tell…
The innovation program has helped one farmer to cut the costs of planting cover crops, including ryegrass, between rows of corn.

Minnesota corn growers looking for innovation that protects the environment

Grants allow Minnesota farmers to field-test conservation ideas.
A line of customers goes out the door during the soft opening of the new Tim Hortons bakery at Mall of America, Nov. 15, 2016.

Seven Tim Hortons restaurants in Minnesota sued for breach of contract

The Canadian restaurant chain says it has not received payments from several of its Minnesota franchisees.
Logging site chipping unmerchantable timber, storm damaged timber, or invasive species infested timber to be burned for power generation.

Loggers and truckers sue Xcel Energy over proposed shutdowns of plants

Lawsuit says Xcel's idea to cease using three Minn. plants will cost 100 jobs.
“When … you’re trying to make a living and can’t, I mean depression is a very real thing out here,” dairy farmer Kevin Stuedemann said.

Mental health issues cropping up as financial stress continues on farms

Years of low commodity prices have loaded producers with debt and anxiety.
Corn yields are not expected to break records this year in Minnesota. (DAVID JOLES/Star Tribune file photo)

Minnesota corn and soybean farmers had a good year for production, but profits may not follow

Corn, soybean production declined slightly in a year when worldwide harvests are 'hitting on all cylinders'
Researchers killed weeds by blasting them with pressurized grit on a test plot of red peppers in Illinois. The goal is to kill weeds with minimum crop

University of Minnesota researchers are blasting weeds with corncob grit to protect raspberries and other crops

Researchers are studying how to pulverize weeds with abrasive grit as an alternative to herbicides or hand pulling
Laura Dunham, dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Entrepreneurship.

University of St. Thomas ratchets up its entrepreneurship programs on campus

With a new leader, the University of St. Thomas ratchets up its entrepreneurship training effort

Cargill will purchase Diamond V animal health and nutrition business

The acquisition expects to accelerate the support of healthier animals and more wholesome food.
The fall colors along the Mississippi River Tuesday are near peak as a small tug boat heads up river, as seen from the Franklin Ave. Bridge in Minneap

Time for hooky: Minnesota soaks up picture-perfect days

More Minnesotans may be calling in sick this week. Blame it on a string of higher than normal temperatures that has folks keeping their shorts…
Extension researcher Eric Burkness checked raspberry plants growing in a hoop house for signs of spotted wing drosophila.

New insect pest changing the way Minnesota fruit is grown

Scientists race to find fix as losses pile up for berry farms, wineries
Wisconsin ranks second in organic farming after California, according to the USDA. Brothers Jim and Alan Ideker run an organic dairy there.

Minnesota's organic farming industry shows steady growth, USDA survey shows

Minnesota ranks ninth nationally in organic production and sales with double-digit growth that mirrors trends around the country
Land O’Lakes’ new innovation center in River Falls, Wis., for its WinField United unit.

Land O'Lakes opens $40 million innovation center in Wisconsin

The facility in River Falls, Wis., will develop products for its WinField United division.

Farmers, Syngenta reach settlement over Agrisure Viptera corn seed

The pending settlement is subject to court approval and would establish a fund to compensate corn farmers for economic losses incurred when China would not accept U.S. exports.
Adrienne Barnwell

Adrienne Barnwell, longtime pediatric psychologist, dies at 79

Barnwell was passionate about helping children with complex, rare and traumatic medical problems, and spent four decades doing so in the Twin Cities.
2016 file photo of a Mosaic Co. gypsum stack near Mulberry, Fla.

Mosaic assessing damage to Florida operations after Hurricane Irma

All employees seem to be safe and accounted for, the CEO said.
Pedestrians walk past the entrance to Syngenta AG's headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, in 2014.

Minnesota farmers take on Syngenta in court this week

A yearslong battle between farmers and the Syngenta Corp. over whether the Swiss giant rushed to market a genetically modified corn seed, causing millions of…
In this Tuesday, July 11, 2017, photo, East Arkansas soybean farmer Reed Storey looks at his field in Marvell, Ark. Storey said half of his soybean cr

Highly anticipated Roundup replacement spawns hundreds of Midwestern farmers' complaints

A new formulation of an old herbicide has sparked complaints.
“Mosaic generated improving results during the second quarter as global demand for potash and phosphates remained strong.” Mosaic Chief Executive

Mosaic sees higher fertilizer sales

Even though fertilizer prices remain low, the company beat earnings expectations in second quarter.
Hay wrapped in plastic lay on the ground of a ranch. These covers are becoming more popular than silos but generate millions of pounds of waste per ye

Farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin are now recycling millions of pounds of plastic

Dairy farmers are lining up to join a program that turns plastic waste into trash bags
CHS HQ in Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

Bankrupt Brazil partner sinks CHS earnings for quarter

The nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative reported lower earnings across the board during the past quarter.
Matthew Fitzgerald, 25, operated a flame cultivator on a corn crop on land his family farms near Hutchinson. Fitzgerald recently left his job in the c

First-of-its-kind law aims to help young farmers find footing in Minnesota

As young farmers in the state struggle to break into the industry, Minnesota introduces a first-of-its-kind law to lend a hand
Employees at Allianz Life exercised during a class at their on-site fitness center. Allianz’ True Balance wellness program also helps employees with

Wellness programs evolve to help workers cope with social and emotional stress

Top Workplaces companies are expanding programs to include mental and social dimensions.
Robert Rohlf

Robert Rohlf, former Hennepin County Library system director who died at 89, left wide-ranging imprint

He was known as Mr. Library, and no wonder. Robert Rohlf directed the Hennepin County Library system for 25 years, served as president of the…
Logging site chipping unmerchantable timber, storm damaged timber, or invasive species infested timber to be burned for power generation. A new law wo

New law allows much of Minnesota's biomass industry to be shut down

Xcel says plants are too expensive to run.
A buffer strip of grass and trees along the Rock River west of Edgerton is a good example of the protective strips that help filter runoff.

Buffer measure has grace period added under new legislation

Farmers would apply for the temporary extension; money would be shifted in budget to help.
JOHN MESKO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT MIDWEST ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE EDUCATION SERVICE

Despite barriers, organic farming is still a growth industry, expert says

John Mesko, executive director at Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), has a broad background in both conventional and organic farming. He worked in…
Jay Debertin, CEO of CHS (Photo provided by CHS)

Jay Debertin named president and CEO of Inver Grove Heights-based CHS Inc.

Carl Casale replaced by veteran manager after co-op's earnings flounder.
Corn and soybean farmers have caught up in planting thanks to the weather last week.

Minnesota farmers are back on track with 2017 planting

Dry — and warmer — weather last week allowed corn and soybean producers to catch up to average planting times.
The Great Lakes shipping season is off to a solid start in 2017, thanks to a mild winter and an upsurge in iron ore exports.

Great Lakes shipping season off to a solid start

A winter with less ice meant shipping out of Duluth and Superior and across the Great Lakes saw upsurge over last year.
This year's corn crop is behind schedule because of the cold weather. The crop was well under way to being planted in 2014.

Minnesota farmers hit pause as they wait to plant corn this spring

Farmers need some sun to get corn, other crop production back on schedule.
Mosaic Co. operator works a phosphate dragline at the company's production site near Tampa, Fla. Mosaic reported a small net loss in the first three m

Low fertilizer prices hurt Mosaic's bottom line

Farmers have reduced fertilizer, putting strain on Plymouth firm's earnings.
The sandy soil at the Sand Plain Research Farm is well-suited to grow potatoes. Above, U researcher Jennifer Flynn harvested one of the potato breedin

Xcel's plan for Becker plants is uprooting University of Minnesota research farm

Xcel, with city of Becker's support, is selling land for industrial development.
Credit is the financial lifeblood for farm operations and, like other aspects of agriculture, is in a consolidation trend.

AgStar merger creating one of nation's largest farm credit associations

The merger of three major agricultural lenders in the Upper Midwest is raising questions about how big is too big when it comes to the Farm Credit System.
Palmer amaranth: Palmer amaranth, a prolific and aggressive weed discovered in Minnesota in September, has devastated fields and raised the cost of fa

State tracks down source of weed harmful to crops

The invasive Palmer amaranth contaminated seed mixes sold by a small Minnesota company.
Anthony Cortilet with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture took an industrial hemp plant sample last summer to test for THC. Plants must be below 0

Pot's cousin explored as viable crop option for Minnesota

Not to be confused with illicit marijuana, useful plant draws interest as crop option at U's ag campus.
Vermont Creamery is an artisanal operation that makes cheese varieties including coupole.

Land O'Lakes buying artisanal pioneer Vermont Creamery

Specialty cheeses have bumped up in popularity because of stronger consumer interest in healthier, locally produced foods without artificial growth hormones.
Income for farms raising livestock to grain decreased in the last year.

More than 30 percent of Minnesota farmers lost money in 2016

Two years of losses place financial stress on farmers as prices continue to decline.
University of Minnesota Extension has started offering free financial counseling for farmers in need.

Losses, tighter credit prompt University of Minnesota Extension to help financially pressed farmers

University of Minnesota Extension announces free and confidential counseling service to help struggling farmers.
Douglas Birk

Douglas Birk, pioneer of Minnesota archaeology, dies at 73

Birk was a national expert on fur trade history, which included the early French explorers and the British and Americans who followed.
Local pet chain store Chuck & Dons has acquired Fetch.

Chuck & Don's buys online company Fetch to expand its pet food sales

The Mahtomedi-based pet retailer sees e-commerce as key to growing market share.
Organic soybeans being raised in 2015.

Organic farmers worried about possible fraudulent grain imports

The flood of organic corn and soybeans, driven by U.S. consumer demand, has caused a huge drop in prices for farmers during the past 18 months.
“We’re pleased with 2016 ... it’s one year in a series of good years and it shows that our strategy is working.”
Land O’Lakes President and

Land O'Lakes reports record earnings despite slow farm economy

But the cooperative saw decreases in some areas.
In summer, Minnesota can look like a sea of soybeans, corn and other crops. The latest USDA numbers show the state has 73,300 farms, about 300 fewer t

As farms grow bigger, Minnesota continues to lose farms

The decline mirrors national and regional trends.
Scientists at the University of Minnesota are conducting research in response to consumer concerns about how farmers are raising swine. One study conc

Swine research at U of M tackles animal welfare concerns

Scientists studying swine are trying to help pork producers respond to animal-welfare concerns
Mosaic Co.'s profits were down due to a tough farm economy the past couple of years.

Mosaic profit drops sharply, but executives see end to low prices in fertilizer business

Mosaic sees a gradual upswing in its fertilizer business, but the company slashed its dividend.
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