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Ag and Extension Briefs

Paul & Brenda Zeug Family recognized as a 2020 ‘U of M Farm Family’

The Paul and Brenda Zeug family of Morgan has been named Redwood County’s “2020 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.

Paul’s family originally ran a dairy operation, but it was transitioned to a farrow-to-finish swine business. The current Zeug farm is a small operation focused on sustaining the rural way of life as much as the land itself. The family raises corn, soybeans and alfalfa in rotation. The farm is mainly a cow-calf beef operation. The Zeugs sell feeder cattle; they finish some and directly sell beef to consumers. Paul also does some custom work and is employed full time on another farm.

Paul and Brenda have three kids: Lance, Lauren and Matthew. Lance builds spreaders for the Artex Company — a fitting job for a kid who once wanted a spreader on top of his birthday cake! Lauren plans to be a physical therapist. She’s currently enrolled at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. Matthew will be a junior at Cedar Mountain in Morgan.

Paul and Brenda were 4-H leaders. Paul is currently superintendent of the 4-H beef project and serves as chair of the Redwood County 4-H Livestock Auction and Purple Ribbon Club. The Zeug family is very involved in the Redwood County Fair.

The Zeugs take part in many Redwood Area Wrestling Association events –Paul was a youth wrestling coach. Lance and Matthew have demonstrated antique farm machinery with Friends of Gilfillan since grade school. The Zeugs are members of St. Michael’s Church.

Though COVID-19 has forced cancellation of the annual Minnesota Farmfest, where the awards are presented each August, this year’s honorees will be celebrated in an online video tribute. The recognition, lead by University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, will be available at 1 p.m., Aug. 6 at mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu.

Honored families are chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to their communities and to enhancing and supporting agriculture.

“We’ll miss the face-to-face ceremony for the 2020 Farm Families of the Year, but nothing diminishes pride we take in celebrating their accomplishments,” said Extension Dean Bev Durgan. “These families represent the best in agriculture. They’re innovative and dedicated to their communities; they are stewards of the land.”

A complete list of the 2020 Farm Families of the Year will be available at mnfarmfamilies.CFAMS.umn.edu.       

Along with Farmfest, University units sponsoring the recognition event include University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

U.S. Senator Tina Smith introduces loan program to help dairy processors weather COVID-19 economic crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee-introduced legislation Wednesday to create a loan program to provide relief to dairy processors who have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

Sen. Smith said that the USDA backed loan program would allow dairy processors, packagers, merchants, marketers, wholesalers and distributors to secure credit against their inventory, ensuring dairy processors have the working capital needed to make it through the pandemic.

“For years, the dairy industry in Minnesota and across the country has been reeling from low prices, trade disruptions and weather disasters. Now, to add insult to injury, the coronavirus pandemic has caused much of the dairy market to dry up,” said Smith. “My legislation will help the dairy industry access the capital it needs to stay afloat during this uncertain time. I plan to keep pushing for relief for Minnesota agriculture.”

“A dairy recourse loan would ensure all links in the dairy supply chain remain intact and have access to the working capital they need to keep operating and paying their bills amid the significant market volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO, International Dairy Foods Association. “IDFA and our members are grateful to Senator Smith for providing dairy food companies with the financial tools they need to continue processing milk, keep workers employed and keep Americans fed with nutritious dairy products.”

Language establishing a dairy recourse loan program was included in the House passed HEROES Act.

Minnesota’s climate and addressing farm stress to be featured at virtual SW MN Ag Lenders Conference Aug. 19

The 37th annual Southwest Minnesota Ag Lenders Conference will be delivered via a Zoom webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 19 online. Agricultural lenders and farm management and agribusiness professionals throughout southwest Minnesota are encouraged to attend.

Kenneth Blumenfeld a climate scientist with the Minnesota state climatology office will deliver a keynote address titled Climate conditions, Outlook and Trends in Minnesota. Blumenfeld will look at the recent and current climatic conditions in Minnesota, give an overview of current professional seasonal outlooks, and examine some of the persistent and important trends affecting Minnesota and its producers. Emily Krekelberg, UMN Extension’s educator for farm safety & health and the director of the Rural Stress Task Force, will discuss the nature of farm stress and how to identify stress as well as provide strategies for communicating with stressed individuals and review available resources.

Other presentations will cover current research at the SWROC, emerging financial and profitability trends in the Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management Association, the economic impact of Minnesota’s livestock industry, beginning farmer farm management program fees and credits, and what makes a crop farm financially resilient.

The conference, delivered via Zoom webinar, begins at 8:45 a.m. and concludes at 3:15 p.m. Participants must have an email address & access to a computer, tablet, or phone to participate. To register or for more details, visit z.umn.edu/ag-lenders-conf or email Gretchen Thillen at gthillen@umn.edu.

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