Supreme Court weighs if MN farmer can sue feds over 212 dead cows

Matt Seppings on Flickr
Greg Herden watched helplessly as the cows on his family farm in Gully, about an hour west of Bemidji, began spontaneously aborting their calves. The young were coming out still-born or near death.

A veterinarian investigated and found that the calves' blood was not coagulating. There was mold in the stomach. And to make matters worse, the adult cows were now sick.

The next year, Herden buried the last of his bovine -- number 212.

"It was a hard time," he says. "How would you like to bury a dead pet every few days?"

His family is suing the U.S. Department Agriculture for negligence, claiming that a grazing specialist inadvertently poisoned some of the fields. The case is up for consideration by the United States Supreme Court.

If the court decides to take it and rules in the Herdens' favor, all those dead cows could change the way the rest of us interact with government employees.

SEE ALSO: 200 dead Wisconsin cows were smote by disease, not biblical prophesy

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Minnesota's GOP reps help pass "partisan, broken" farm bill

Alternative Heat and Congressman Tim Walz
On Thursday, the Republican-run U.S. House passed a farm bill. This should be good news: The all-important package of legislation, which comes up for a vote every five years, expired in September 2012, and has left many in farm country in limbo.

But the House's latest version of the farm bill -- which earned support from Minnesota's three GOP reps, but passed without a single Democratic vote -- has sparked controversy over the future of nutritional assistance programs, or food stamps. It splits off that funding, which has been included in the farm bill since 1973, from the legislation, instead saving it to deal with later.

See Also:
- Klobuchar reminds Senate that "the stakes are high for Minnesota" with farm bill [VIDEO]
- FEATURE: Farming for Federal Dollars: Meet the Minnesotans who receive subsidies for not growing anything
- Mary Franson, Phyllis Kahn introduce bill to legalize industrial hemp production

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The undercover animal cruelty videos that spurred Big Ag's censorship crusade

Categories: Agriculture

Photo courtesy of Mercy for Animals
One of the nearly 3,000 pigs at Country View Family Farms in Fannettsburg, Pennsylvania. The far mis a supplier for Hatfield Quality Meats, which is sold in twelve Northeastern states.
This week's story, "The Ag Gag War," goes behind the scenes of the guerilla fight between animal rights groups and Big Agriculture.

For years organizations like the Humane Society and Mercy for Animals have being going undercover at America's largest farms, using hidden cameras to show exactly how our food is produced. The footage hasn't been pretty.

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Mary Franson, Phyllis Kahn introduce bill to legalize industrial hemp production

hemp image via Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday, Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) and Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) teamed up to introduce a bill that would develop and regulate industrial hemp production in Minnesota.

As it stands now, hemp -- marijuana's big, non-psychoactive sister  -- is banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a controlled substance. But some states, notably North Dakota, have thumbed their noses at the feds and passed laws to license an industry, though they (mostly) continue to wait for a green light to actually grow the stuff.

If Franson and Kahn get their way, Minnesota will be next.

See Also:
- Agriculture: Hemp Jive
- From the archives: High Expectations: Paranoia causes the Legislature to do an about-face on industrial hemp production
- Mary Franson wins recount in belated MNGOP election night success story

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Klobuchar reminds Senate that "the stakes are high for Minnesota" with farm bill [VIDEO]

klobuchar rect.jpg
Fighting against jeopardizing "our entire country just to score political points in the House."
The farm bill expired at the end of September, but first the election and now the fiscal cliff have worked like a one-two punch to knock out chatter about it. Trust Amy Klobuchar, though, to try and get our attention back.

Yesterday she took to the Senate floor to remind people just how many billions of dollars and hundreds of programs are hanging in limbo. And how generally badass Minnesota farmers are.

See Also:
- Farming for Federal Dollars: Meet the Minnesotans who receive subsidies for not growing anything
- Amy Klobuchar: "For the first time, there was a traffic jam in the Senate women's bathroom"
- Everything Must Go: How to step away from a hundred years of family farming--in four hours or less

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Minnesota has country's best corn crop in a drought-stricken season, USDA says

bionicteaching | Flickr Creative Commons
In a widespread drought, much of the country's corn crop looks like this. Minnesota farmers are faring best.
- Minnesota's average low temperature rose faster than any other state's since 1970, says new study
- Al Franken declares Minnesota sweet corn the best in the world

Remember all those corn cobs at the state fair last weekend? Well, Minnesota's corn crop is the strongest in the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today. That ranking could translate into profits for our farmers, as the rest of the grain belt struggles with a drought that's causing the weakest projected yields since 1995, and the smallest expected harvest since 2006.

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Voodoo lily brings rotting corpse smell to Minnesota Zoo

The new voodoo lily at MN Zoo
Just in time for spring, the Minnesota Zoo has acquired a flower that blooms and smells like something died.

Amorphophallus konjac--also known as Voodoo lily or Devil's tongue--landed at the zoo on Tuesday and is expected to bloom within the next few days. You don't want to miss this, because when it does, the air will be filled with the rotting scent of death.

"I read one thing that says it smells like Hannibal Lecter's compost pile on a hot afternoon," says Kim Thomas, horticulture supervisor at the Minnesota Zoo.

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Raw milk: Sens. Nienow, Dahms, and Robling want easier access

Categories: Agriculture

Raw Milk by kthread.jpg
kthread on Flickr
Raw Milk: some lawmakers want more of it
​State senators Sean Nienow, Gary Dahms, and Claire Robling are pushing legislation to make raw milk more widely available in Minnesota, even though the state health department says drinking it poses a serious health risk.

The bill would allow raw milk sales at farmer's markets and directly to homes. Currently, state law mandates that raw milk--which is unpasteurized--be sold only on the farm where it is produced. So raw milk lovers from the Twin Cities now have to drive hours to pick up their dairy beverage of choice.

"Raw milk is a legal product," Nienow says. "The product itself is legal--it's just the accessibility."

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Agribusiness accused of plowing under U of M enviro film

Troubled Waters: You can't see it.
"Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story" is a damning documentary about agricultural pollution in the Big Muddy, produced by the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History.

But someone doesn't want you to see it.

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Josh Kindel is a teenage check forger who says Salvia made him do it

Sigh. It's excuses like these that give fodder to prohibitionists and anti-drug warriors. From the Worthington Daily Globe:

A Fulda teen facing check forgery charges after allegedly writing checks on the accounts of both his stepfather and grandmother told law enforcement he was addicted to salvia, a psychoactive plant that causes euphoria.
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