Ag Business Briefs

FF Editor
Farm Forum

Early bird registration deadline approaching for Agricultural

Outlook Forum

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds those interested in attending this year’s Agricultural Outlook Forum that early bird registration ends January 26. The two-day meeting will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, February 22-23.

The Agricultural Outlook Forum is the USDA’s largest annual meeting, attracting as many as 2,000 attendees nationally and internationally. The Forum highlights key issues and topics within the agricultural community, offering a platform for conversation among producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, both foreign and domestic.

The theme for this year’s 94th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum is “The Roots of Prosperity.” Along with a host of prestigious plenary speakers and discussions, attendees may choose from 30 informational sessions with more than 80 speakers and a host of agriculture related exhibits to visit.

— U.S. Department of Agriculture

Executives indicted for fish farm investment fraud

SIOUX FALLS — Two executives of a company with plans to build an aquaponics farm in Brookings have been indicted on wire and mail fraud.

Federal prosecutors say Tobias Ritesman and Timothy Burns misled potential investors about the viability of Global Aquaponics. An indictment says investors were told that a nearly $11 million high-tech farm would be built in Brookings to grow fish and shrimp. The water from the fish tanks would be used to grow vegetables.

The Argus Leader reports Assistant U.S. Attorney Annie Hoffman says a memorandum to investors said the company had $5.6 million in cash, which was not true. Another $5.4 million would come from investors. Hoffman says the defendants used the investor funds for their own purposes, not for the project.

— Associated Press

Stillwater farm vying for nationwide grant

Axdahl Farms in Stillwater, Minn., needs your vote.

Owners Brian and Leslie Axdahl are vying for a $28,000 grant from “Cultivating Change,” a local farm grant program offered by Greener Fields Together. Voting ends Jan. 31.

The Axdahls said they would use the money “to cover the equipment costs and labor needed for a new energy- and water-efficient irrigation well.” The Axdahls had to seal off part of their well last year and begin pulling from a different, shallower aquifer.

The new equipment will have the ability to vary the speed and amount of water drawn from the well “which will make our entire farm more efficient and environmentally sustainable,” Axdahl said.

Cultivating Change is a grant program that gives local farms funds to upgrade operations, invest in food safety and implement sustainable technology, according to its website.

Each time a distributor purchases a package from a Greener Fields Together local farm partner, 5 cents is added to the Cultivating Change fund. Distributors purchased more 1.4 million packages from Greener Fields Together farms, resulting in $75,000 in total grant awards, according to the website.

Readers wishing to vote for Axdahl Farms can do so at, and visitors to the site can vote once per day.

Winners will be announced Feb. 5.

— Mary Divine, Pioneer Press, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Minnesota State Fairgrounds slated for $11.1 million upgrade

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota State Fairgrounds is getting an $11.1 million face-lift.

The State Fair’s board of managers on Sunday approved $7.2 million in capital improvements and $3.8 million in maintenance projects for the coming year.

The work will include construction of a new restroom and new pet exhibition area, improvements to the livestock complex and upgrades to infrastructure.

The projects will be funded through State Fair operating revenue and grants from the Minnesota State Fair Foundation.

The board also decided to keep admission prices the same last year. The 2018 fair will be held Aug. 23 through Sept. 3.

— Associated Press

Land Stewardship hosting soil building workshops

LEWISTON, Minn. — The Land Stewardship Project will host a pair of farmer-to-farmer workshops to discuss soil building.

From 10 a.m. to noon, Jan. 25 at Recreation Cafe, 20 E. Main St. in Lewiston, the meeting will feature cover crop specialist T.J. Kartes from Blooming Prairie and dairy farmer Robb Miller of Lewiston. Kartes will discuss how to successfully cover crop large acreages. Miller will discuss his success with using triticale as both a cover crop and a supplemental feed for his cows.

On Jan. 30, the workshop will be held at Good Times Restaurant, 118 Bissen St. in Caledonia. Caledonia farmer Bob Mierau will talk about no-till corn and soybeans and his experiments with cover crop mixes, winter wheat and using a homemade roller crimper. Caledonia dairy farmer John Troendle will talk about how he is transitioning his 500-acre dairy to organic and using cover crops to build soil and retain nutrients.

These workshops are free; to reserve a meal at either event, contact LSP organizer Shona Snater by Jan. 22 for the Lewiston meeting or Jan. 26 for the Caledonia meeting by calling 507-523-3366 or e-mailing

— Brian Todd, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.