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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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Readers draw our attention to separate items about the farm chemical glyphosate, popularly known as Round-up. Together, the stories weave a tale of a herbicide use under fire--and of its defenders. At the New York Times, Mihir Zaveri reports in Report Finds Traces of a Controversial Herbicide in Cheerios and Quaker Oats: An environmental research and advocacy group has found traces of a controversial herbicide in Cheerios, Quaker Oats and other breakfast foods that it says could increase cancer risk for children. The report comes amid longstanding debate about the safety of the chemical glyphosate, which federal regulators maintain is... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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A reader drew our attention to a tweet by the Land Stewardship Action Fund: .@LSAFnow had great meetings with candidates this summer, and while not endorsing, we're clear that @epmurphymn has shown the investment in our issues & commitment to work with us that we are looking for in the next #MNGov. #mnvalues #MNPrimary https://t.co/nwuU5tqpfV pic.twitter.com/bzfPzCd1iR — Land Stewardship Action (@LSAFnow) August 13, 2018 The tweet links to this thoughtful letter about tomorrow's DFL gubernatorial primary: Dear Friend, Tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug. 14) is the primary election in Minnesota. We strongly encourage supporters of Land Stewardship Action to VOTE and to... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Although we moved to South Dakota last September, the pro-Swanson Alliance for Jobs Committee sent us the independent expenditure mailer on the top of this post. We're not voting in the Minnesota primary as that would be quite naughty, especially since we voted in the South Dakota primary earlier this summer. One sentence caught our eye: "You shouldn't hire a football coach if he leaves the field at halftime and you shouldn't pay a congressman $175,000 to miss almost 60% of his votes. However, unless Walz has abandoned a long-term policy about his congressional pay, since the last official House... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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While the image above--found on Tim Pawlenty's 2018 gubernatorial campaign website--doesn't explicitly say that Minnesota outdoorsman Ron Schara has endorsed the former governor's effort to get his old job back, the two gentlemen on the left do seem close. The image floats above the article Pawlenty announces outdoor initiatives developed with sportsmen and women including Ron Schara & Kent Hrbek on the Pawlenty campaign news archives. Thus, we read the following ad in Outdoor News announcing that Governor Candidates to Discuss Outdoor Issues at August 18 Game Fair with raised eyebrows: While all 11 candidates for governor have been invited... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Read most Farmfest political forum coverage, gentle readers, and you'd think that the outdoor ag trade show Minnesota's second State Fair, the great Greater Minnesota get together. Attendees interviewed by Noah Fish for Governor hopefuls court rural votes in the Rochester Post Bulletin beg to differ: For the first and only time before the primary election, all five candidates for governor appeared in a forum together Wednesday in front of a standing room-only crowd in the Wicks Building at Farmfest. Political forums at Farmfest date back to 1990, and the event has become a mandatory stop for state candidates looking... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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A reader had a sad upon receiving a mail piece from Minnesota First Congressional District Republican primary challenger, state senator Carla Nelson. The Rochester lawmaker is pulling no punches in attacking Hagedorn, pointing out that while he's moved back to Minnesota several times to run for office, he's never purchased a home here. Our friend asks, "Remember when the Republicans pledged to not say ill of each other?" Indeed, we do. The precept was generally known as "the Eleventh Commandment," followed by Ronald Reagan in his 1966 California gubernatorial campaign. Nelson contrasts Hagedorn's perpetual candidacy with her own record in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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We had a difficult time watching the Farmfest gubernatorial debate on Wednesday, as our bandwidth wasn't able to handle the stream, buffering every few seconds. So we're relying on Forum Communication's Don Davis' reporting in Farmers crowd in to hear Minnesota governor candidates. Davis writes: Johnson promised to appoint a farmer as agriculture commissioner, complaining that now ag policy is set by bureaucrats and instead of favoring farmers they write rules for butterflies, birds and bees. This is a peculiar take on Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson's career, as well as a slap on pollinator conservation (and misplacing the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem's coverage of the Fillmore County citizens fight to stop the creation of a huge hog factory farm in Southeast Minnesota's sensitive karst country has been followed by people engaged the struggle. A reader forwarded an email the MPCA planner involved in the project, noting that concerns raised about soil collapse have prompted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to postpone a decision on whether to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): From: "Peterson, Charles V (MPCA)" [email redacted] Date: August 6, 2018 at 1:45:28 PM CDT Subject: Postpone decision on need for EIS for Catalpa Ag, LLC EAW Pursuant to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Last week we posted about breaking news in the pinelands to potato lands struggle central Minnesota in After MN DNR requires EAW for Offutt potato field expansion, toxic tater giant drops plans. On Saturday, the Star Tribune's Josephine Marcotty filled in the story in Major grower backs away from contentious pine-to-potato expansion: Minnesota’s largest potato producer is backing away from a controversial expansion just south of the Mississippi River headwaters after state regulators insisted on an environmental study of the potential contamination of groundwater. For local citizens, who for years have been urging the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem Prairie has been covered the organized citizen opposition to a huge farm hog farm in Fillmore County's karst country. As the Star Tribune reported in July: Neighbors, including some farmers, contend the environmental impact potential is “enormous” because it would sit on an environmentally sensitive area known as the karst region of the state. They worry about manure seeping into drinking water and odor wafting throughout the area. Last night, Land Stewardship Project tweeted: Packed house at Newburg Twp on using local control to protect the community. Local control makes rural Minnesota strong. pic.twitter.com/p7rUSo3XTe — LandStewardshipProj (@LSPnow) August 3,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Tuesday, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported DNR orders EAW for RD Offutt potato field expansion. Late Wednesday, papers in the Forum Communications chain reported in Northern Minnesota potato wars may have hit a turning point: Maybe it's just a breather, but the long-simmering controversy between the R.D. Offutt Farms' potato field expansion project and environmentalists concerned about groundwater and lake pollution may have come to an end or at least reached a turning point. After Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources gave a two-week notice last week that the Fargo-based company's irrigation water well permits in some of the eight northern Minnesota... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Earlier this summer, Bluestem Prairie wrote about a swine factory farm proposed for the heart of Fillmore County's karst country in Fillmore County citizens have their fill of proposed hog farm, demand EIS statement and Dayton to meet with Fillmore Co farmers & rural residents demanding EIS for proposed 4,980-head factory hog farm. Now news comes from our friends at Land Stewardship Project that one of the partners of the factory farm is attempting to prevent the township from meeting to consider adopting a one-year moratorium on new large-scale feedlots and other developments. Under Minnesota law, townships possess considerable power... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem is rapidly growing to love endorsed Republican US Senate candidate Karin Housley. As a source of fodder for posts. Take this passage supporting the present state of big money in politics, found in Gabriel LaGarde's reporting in the Brainerd Dispatch article Housley challenges opponent's 'extreme' politics in senate bid: "I'd rather be out talking with communities," Housley said. "I wish campaigns didn't have to cost so much, but they do. I'm in support of a free market when it comes to campaigns." She noted while sometimes it's necessary to spend large sums to campaign in population-thin areas like greater... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Earlier on Monday, Bluestem Prairie posted Victory for local control: Minnesota Court of Appeals upholds Winona Co frac sand ordinance. Seeing our post, Southeast Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project (LSP) policy organizer Johanna Rupprecht sent this document: July 30, 2018 The Minnesota Court of Appeals today upheld Winona County’s ordinance banning frac sand mining. The court upheld that Winona County acted fully within its rights in using its zoning authority to prohibit industrial mining operations. This ruling further affirms that the proper role of government is to take bold action to protect the common good, for both people and the land.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Winona Daily News' Chris Hubbuch reports in Appeals court upholds Winona County's frac sand ban: Winona County’s ban on industrial sand mining has been upheld by a higher court. In a published opinion released Monday, the state Court of Appeals affirmed a county judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit from a company that challenged the legality of the ordinance and said it stood to lose up to $5.8 billion as a result. . . . Minnesota Sands and a group of landowners argued that the 2016 mining ordinance violates their constitutional rights by singling out sand used for industrial purposes... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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How exhausted has metro/rural placebaiting become? Take the example from the United States Senate race, featured in the Austin Daily Herald story, Housley: U.S. Senate candidate for Franken’s seat in upcoming primary, by Hannah Yang. However, one of the major factors that played into Housley running for U.S. Senate was her frustrations with Dayton’s and Smith’s leadership, and said that the officials did not have the best interests of “all Minnesotans” at heart. “I couldn’t let Tina Smith represent all Minnesotans because there’s more to Minnesota than Minneapolis and St. Paul,” she said. “She’s metro-centric and forgets about all the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Having covered the creeping crisis of Chronic Wasting Disease in Minnesota's whitetail deer herd, Bluestem Prairie was pleased to watch freshman Roseville Democrat speak up--frequently--about the issue on the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources committee for the past two sessions. Looks like we weren't the only ones. At the Rochester Post Bulletin, Eric Atherton reports in Bluffland Whitetails marks anniversary, honors legislator: On Thursday in St. Charles, past and current members of the Bluffland Whitetails Association gathered to celebrate the group’s 20th anniversary. The organization was the brainchild of a handful deer hunters who in the late 1990s believed... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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While one Minnesota gubernatorial candidate, DFLer Tim Walz, has suggested "regulatory humility" should be a guiding principle for a government dealing with agriculture and other business interests, agribusiness interests are seeking a bit of federal-level regulatory relief themselves from railroads. The LaCrosse Tribune's Chris Hubbuch reports in Wisconsin frac sand producers seek relief from rail costs, service issues: In a clash of old and new industries, Wisconsin frac sand producers say their business is threatened by a handful of railroads operating under outdated regulations. But it's not just frac sand companies wishing to ship sand to distant oil fields seeking... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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In a document with a Minneapolis return address that's home to national public relations powerhouse Padilla, Minnesota House candidates are being asked by the AgriGrowth Council "A Greater Minnesota" to pledge to raid the Clean Water Fund to pay for a $50 per acre tax credit for farmers taking land out of production under the state's buffer law. Governor Dayton had preferred to fund the tax credit, which was rolled into the giant omnibus bill he vetoed, with general revenue money. The Star Tribune's Tom Meersman reported in Farmers urge Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders to provide tax credits... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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WCCO has produced a guide for Minnesota's primary voters. We're entertained by a couple of endorsed Republican US Senate candidate Jim Newberger's answers: Responses from Jim Newberger, Republican candidate for U.S Senate: When politicians refer to negative stories as “fake news”, do you believe it? Yes. Do you believe in climate change, and should the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate accords? No. No. As we write, there's an awkward editing issue on the WCCO page for Newberger, but we're pretty sure those answers are from Newberger, not the other candidate mentioned in the copy: Newberger's monosyllabic responses are a marked... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Tuesday, DFL communications staffer Wilhelm Davis exposed a fraudulent fundraising email that distorted Minnesota Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson's Blue Dog record. Peterson--who votes 66,7 percent with the President, according to tracking maintained by FiveThirtyEight*--is said to align with positions he's not taken. Here's the tweet from Davis: Check out the fake fundraising email sent to businesses in #mn07 "on behalf" of Colin Peterson. Extremely dirty tricks from republicans who have yet to find a serious candidate that can beat him. #mnpol pic.twitter.com/B4cqelxnvG — Wilhelm Davis (@WilhelmDavis) July 24, 2018 Our editor, chief cucumber waterer and tomato plant staker... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Monday on Workday Minnesota, Filiberto Nolasco Gomez reported As Prevailing Wage Laws Are Being Threatened, New Research Explains Their Importance. Given the importance of prevailing wage laws to many construction workers, we thought it might be useful to see where the known members of the Republican Farmer Labor Caucus stand on this issue. After all, the group touts itself as a "pro-hard-hat-union" affiliate of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Workday Minnesota explains why prevailing law laws are a boon to construction workers: Prevailing wage (link is external) functions as a local minimum wage for different types of skilled construction work.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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City Pages' Mike Mullen follows up on Congressman Jason Lewis really, really wanted to call Madonna a 'slut', his review of CNN coverage of Minnesota Second District US representative's halcyon days in talk radio, with Congressman Jason Lewis warned radio listeners of a 'race war." Bluestem turns to a more local attack by Lewis shared on Twitter and Facebook by former state representative Jeremy Kalin, who represented Chisago County for two terms before retiring after the 2010 session. Here's the Facebook version of Kalin's account: [I didn’t want to have to revisit this ugly incident from 10 years ago. But... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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In our last post, Newberger watch: Fergus Falls fun, reaction to Trump's Helsinki moment is "D.C.-centered media feeding frenzy", we'd looked at newspaper accounts of Republican US Senate candidate Jim Newberger' pilgrimage through greater Minnesota. Before that, we'd looked at how Newberger campaigns for Senate by evoking imaginary no-go zone in Dearborn MI. A Detroit Lakes reader gets even more salty in a letter to the local paper, Letter: Newberger's claims have been debunked: The quotes attributed to State Rep. Newberger in the July 11 edition of The Tribune indicate he is either poorly informed or sees no reason to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Newberger watchers at City Pages picked up on the endorsed Republican Senate candidate's "no go zone" statement in Detroit Lakes in GOP candidate Jim Newberger ready to protect Minnesota from Muslim control. Bluestem's take is found in Newberger campaigns for Senate by evoking imaginary no-go zone in Dearborn MI. Newberger provides plenty of fodder for cheeky journalists and bloggers. On the day DL Online posted the article from which the "no-go zone" remarks appear, the Fergus Falls Journal reported in Newberger offers new perspective: Responding to what sets him apart from his other primary challengers, Newberger reflected on his... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie