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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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At the Star Tribune, Josephine Marcotty reports in Minnesota Pollution Control Agency bails on effort to protect wild rice: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will turn to the Legislature for guidance. The state of Minnesota is bailing on its effort to devise a plan to protect wild rice from pollution that comes from taconite mines and wastewater treatment plants, ending a nearly 10-year political and legal fight over Minnesota’s official state grain. The MPCA plans to withdraw from the rule-making process, and will now turn to the Legislature for guidance on how to move forward. That should end well. In... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at Bluestem Prairie
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UPDATE 4/25: Since we posted about the matching logos on Sunday, and this post on Tuesday, multiple sources are reporting about the how DFL has asked the RLC to cease and desist with the name and logo. Only one, KEYC-TV displays the original logo that gave rise in part to the cease and desist letter. Forum Communications's Don Davis reports in DFL vs. RFL: Democrats demand GOP farm group change ‘confusingly similar’ name, logo: Members of the RFL slightly altered the logo, but said they do not plan any more changes. In DFL demands GOP lawmakers stop copying logo, MPR's... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In yet another attempt to blindside farmers and ag lobbyists after months of open meetings, meetings just for stakeholders, comment periods and the like, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has sent out a press release with the subhead: "Public Input Sought Through Open Comment Period and Hearings This Summer:" The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) today released the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule (GPR) to the public and announced the rule will be published in the State Register on April 30, 2018. An 80-day public comment period on the rule will follow. The goal of the Groundwater Protection Rule is to... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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We've been posting about Minnesota's Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) slow-motion crisis for a while. We've not seen anyone nail the casual corruption that existed between the Board of Animal Health and the deer farming industry like Eric Atherton in his latest column for the Post Bulletin, Auditor's report puts BAH, deer farmers on hot seat. Atherton provides a personal story that underscores the report in the column: For years, as I reported on Minnesota’s battle against chronic wasting disease, my primary contact with the Board of Animal Health was Assistant Director Paul Anderson. The BAH regulates Minnesota’s deer and elk... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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UPDATE: The bill has passed: #mnhouse passes HF3280 78-45, to nullify the state’s 45-year-old wild rice water quality sulfate standard and require the MPCA to adopt a new rule. The bill now goes to the Senate. #mnleg pic.twitter.com/kM8XzQfUj2 — MNHouseInfo (@MNHouseInfo) April 23, 2018 We'll post a video of the full debate when it's available. Here's an unofficial roll call: Bill passes 78-45. We're very disappointed in this result and we'll keep working with our partners across the state to highlight the science and the good reasons we need to protect Minnesota's wild rice and clean water from sulfate pollution.... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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UPDATE 4/25: Since we posted about the matching logos on Sunday, and this post on Tuesday, multiple sources are reporting about the how DFL has asked the RLC to cease and desist with the name and logo. Only one, KEYC-TV displays the original logo that gave rise in part to the cease and desist letter. Forum Communications's Don Davis reports in DFL vs. RFL: Democrats demand GOP farm group change ‘confusingly similar’ name, logo: Members of the RFL slightly altered the logo, but said they do not plan any more changes. In DFL demands GOP lawmakers stop copying logo, MPR's... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Late Thursday evening, Bluestem asked Run, Bambi, run! What will auditor's "BAH’s Oversight of Deer & Elk Farms" report reveal? The report (embedded below) is out and the light of day isn't kind. At the Star Tribune, Outdoors columnist Dennis Anderson reports in Lax oversight of deer and elk farmers cited in critical report by Minnesota legislative auditor: Lax oversight of Minnesota’s deer and elk farmers by the Board of Animal Health, particularly in testing for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), was cited in a report issued Friday morning by the office of Legislative Auditor James Nobles. Threats posed to captive... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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On Friday at 8:30 a.m., the Office of the Legislative Auditor will release the Board of Animal Health’s Oversight of Deer and Elk Farms to the Legislative Audit Commission. The document comes two days after the Star Tribune's Tony Kennedy reports Farm deer escapes concern Department of Natural Resources because deer may carry chronic wasting disease and one day after Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South Saint Paul, introduced HF4447 to allow for an optional, voluntary, state buyout of existing deer farms. The bill comes as Chronic Wasting Disease spreads in Minnesota and Hansen works for legislative relief to guard the state's... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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While Republicans and sympathetic Democrats continued their campaign to eliminate water quality standards for wild rice, a group of tribal and environmental organizations took to the Op-ed pages of the Star Tribune to note that in the 2018 Legislature: Possible harm to wild rice is simply un-Minnesotan. At the Session Daily, Michael Strasburg reports in Omnibus environment bill carries controversial rice water legislation: An issue impacting Minnesota’s state grain that has failed to be resolved for nearly eight years is addressed in a proposed omnibus bill. The House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee reviewed the omnibus environment... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Republican heavy breathing about the proposed nitrogen rule continued on Tuesday as the Minnesota House Ag Finance committee inserted Jeff "Goose Poop" Backer's HF2887 into the ag funding omnibus bill. Readers may remember that Backer blames nitrogen pollution in Minnesota's groundwater and surface water on Canada geese, repeatedly brings this nincompoopery--we stress the poopery here--up in committee as City Pages' Susan Du reported in Rep. Jeff Backer tries to blame Minnesota's ag pollution on... goose shit. Those honkers actually contribute "approximately 0.1 percent of the statewide nitrogen load to waters." Such is the creative genius of one of the House... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Minnesota Public Radio's Riham Feshir reported last Monday in Women share stories of genital mutilation, support bill to fight the procedure Survivors of female genital mutilation visited the Minnesota State Capitol Monday to share horrific stories of the practice and support a bill that would penalize parents who put their children through the procedure in Minnesota. The event was put on by America Matters, an organization that describes itself as "an advocacy organization dedicated to safeguarding the American way of life." . . . The GOP-backed bill, introduced by Rep. Mary Franson [link to bill added] R-Alexandria, made its way... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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We took notice of an article in the Fillmore County Journal, It’s time to act on Chronic Wasting Disease, by John Zanmiller, Director of External Relations Bluffland Whitetails Assn: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). If you’re not a hunter you may never have heard of this disease that has been detected in Minnesota’s deer. But it’s here, and it could cause a major change in the lives of more than just deer and hunters. We need the legislature to have a real and honest debate on the disease and how we can contain, if not eliminate, the problem. First some background... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Minnesota House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee heard powerful testimony Wednesday about the need to establish a task force on issues related to violence against indigenous women and girls. Video is available at the bottom of this post. New Brighton Democrat Mary Kunesh-Podein's bill, HF3375, has begun to attract media attention after this second hearing. In MinnPost, Briana Bierschbach reports in Legislature proposes finding out why a staggering number of Native American women in Minnesota are murdered or go missing: Mysti Babineau’s mother went missing when she was 2 years old. The police never found her.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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While those Republican who love placebaiting about pastoral virtues over decadent values in the evil metro often wax lyrical about hunting as a rural resident pleasure, the truth about deer hunters in Minnesota is more complicated. Those buying hunting permits are just as likely to be metro residents as hearty yeoman near Roseau. On Monday, the DNR sent out a press release on the new state deer plan, and a series of 35 public comment meetings, the Outdoor News reported that day in State deer plan public meetings start April 16. A Dakota County lawmaker noticed something discriminatory about that--and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Editor's note: A friend who works in Montevideo recommended that we read Facebook posts by Milan-area farmer Michael Jacobs about a meeting in that town. We were so impressed by the post we asked Jacobs' permission to re-post them here on Bluestem Prairie; he graciously consented. For more background about the issue, check out our post and Tom Cherveny's Montevideo opens interfaith dialogue and our post Division lines pockets: Anti-interfaith speaker coming to Montevideo, Duluth, Bloomington. These are Jacobs stories in response to attending the anti-interfaith meeting. Bluestem has altered some of the paragraph formatting for easier reading. Post One:... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Monday's meeting of the Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee considered HF3260, a bill that would gut wild rice quality standards in favor of the needs of the mining industry. The MPCA opposes the bill and its Senate companion, SF2983. The senate companion will be heard this morning (Tuesday) in the Committee on Finance. Streaming audio of the hearing is available here beginning at 8:30 a.m. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was limited in its ability to comment about the legislation in earlier hearings, according to a letter MPCA commissioner has shared with the appropriate environmental committee chairs and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Conservative activist Gary Swenson of Spicer, MN, has led crusades against transgender students and the like, but a recent Facebook post sharing a meme from America's Last Line Of Defense suggests that there's a limit to his powers of discernment. His friends' comments also raise questions about critical thinking skills as well--and more. The America's Last Line Of Defense Facebook page is part of the Christopher Blair network described in the Fake News Codex: A collection of “satirical” websites that post false and extremely inflammatory articles intended to gain social media shares by gullible conservatives.... Most recently, Blair was profiled... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Several friends called our attention to material that originates in a post on the Land Stewardship Project's website, Act Now to Keep Rural Minnesota Strong & Family Farmers on the Land. Buried under a worthy call to action, we find this disturbing passage: Rural Communities & Family Farming Under Attack Here is an example of how corporate interests and big ag are working against rural communities and family farmers at the legislature. On Feb. 26, the Senate Ag Policy and Finance Committees met for a special joint hearing to overview the state of agriculture in Minnesota. Dr. Marin Bozic, a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Aberdeen American reported Saturday afternoon in South Dakota's Marshall [County] pipeline leak almost twice size of early estimates (subhead: TransCanada: Spill was 9,700 barrels, or 407K gallons of oil; one of largest US onshore spills in 8 years): The amount of crude oil that leaked from a pipeline in Marshall County is nearly twice as much as originally believed. Some 9,700 barrels of oil escaped into farmland near Amherst when the Keystone Pipeline broke the morning of Nov. 16. That total is according to Robynn Tysver, a spokeswoman with TransCanada, the owner of the line. The original estimate was... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Editor's note: a glitch in our online editing software caused a version of this post to be badly garbled. We have corrected the errors and apologize for the problem. [end note]. An anti-interfaith event that was to have taken place on Sunday at a hotel in Bloomington has been canceled, multiple sources report, as has the Understanding The Threat warm-up event featuring John Guandolo. Bluestem is relieved, as we were deeply concerned about the welfare of those traveling to Bloomington from Southern, Southwestern, and West Central Minnesota in yet another snow event in April. Just this morning, cars and trucks... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Back on February 12, we wrote in Anatomy of a smear: Jihad Watch blasts MN01 hopeful Nelson for economic development bill: An article posted Sunday by Robert Spencer on the anti-Muslim site Jihad Watch targets Rochester state senator Carla Nelson for SF1722, a straight-to-committee bill introduced last March. Minnesota State Senators want to spend $18,000,000 of taxpayer money on “Somali community development” is an Islamphobic fabulist construction that fails to note HF1946, the House companion bill or press coverage of the effort, going straight to the notion that the bill is an anti-terrorism effort and that Nelson, who is seeking... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Stevens County Times reports in Audience seeks Westrom, Backer support on two gun bills: An audience member asked if the two legislators would support two bills that would make the state safer in relation to guns. One bill calls for universal background checks. A second bill would make it more difficult for those with mental health issues to obtain a gun, several audience members said. A specific feature of the second bill would allow parents to seek a restraining type order that would prevent a child with mental health issues from obtaining a gun. [Torrey] Westrom [R-Elbow Lake] said... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Last Sunday, Star Tribune outdoors columnist Dennis Anderson reported in Unregulated farm tiling puts state's waters at risk Subsurface tiling has been around a long time, with early iterations made of concrete and clay. The difference today is the relative speed and ease with which plastic tiling can be positioned underneath a farm field, and the speed also with which it can rush water from a field’s surface to the nearest stream, ditch or lake. When this happens, unless the water is held back by technologies that to date have gained too little traction among farmers, levels of the receiving... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Three pro-Second Amendment rallies will have been held at the Minnesota state capitol by the end of April, but the events may not be attracting the same crowd, as the sponsors for the events range from an gun group rejected by many pro-gun rights lawmakers to an out-of-state coalition with III Percent militia ties to a final event organized by the more mainstream NRA and its allies. Here's a rundown of the spectrum by sponsors. Minnesota Gun Rights The first rally took place last Saturday, Minnesota Public Radio's Nina Moini reports in A week after gun control rally, gun rights... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem Prairie has been following the growing crisis of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), with posts like That awkward moment when the MNHouse enviro chair deals with CWD meeting partisan mischief and Will Winona County wild whitetails be the walking dead? CWD & a deer farmer's defective fences. Last Wednesday, Tommy Stiles of Henning, Minnesota, made a quick point in his letter to the editors of the Fergus Falls Journal, DNR deer feeding ban: The DNR makes a big deal about the deer feeding ban. There is around 400 deer farms in Minnesota, nearly all of them have a single fence... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at Bluestem Prairie