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One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring Contracts through Continuous Signup

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2018 – As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is an important component of the suite of voluntary conservation programs USDA makes available to agricultural producers, benefiting both the land and wildlife. On the road, I often hear firsthand how popular CRP is for our recreational sector; hunters, fishermen, conservationists and bird watchers,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “CRP also is a powerful tool to encourage agricultural producers to set aside unproductive, marginal lands that should not be farmed to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health. 

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres.

2018 Signup for CRP

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. 

FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.

USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information.

CRP Grasslands

Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP Grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria. Producers with pending applications will receive a letter providing the options.

About CRP

In return for enrolling land in CRP, USDA, through FSA on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), provides participants with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years. CRP pays producers who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.

Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers, ranchers and private landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species.

The new changes to CRP do not impact the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a related program offered by CCC and state partners.

Producers wanting to apply for the CRP continuous signup or CRP grasslands should contact their USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit More information on CRP can be found at

Great Slayton Area Get Together June 21

The Community Band Concert on Thursday June 21 at 7 PM will feature “Sing for America,”  “Best of Henry Mancini,” and “Sweet Georgia Brown.”  “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” will feature a Dixieland Quartet of Cindi Pavlis, Mark Holton, Paul Mesner and Corky Kluis.  Murray Lodge #199 will be sponsoring a Burger Feed at 5 PM.  Full meal deal is $6 which includes a burger, chips, two cookies and a drink; $3 for just a Burger. 

The lodge is using this fundraiser for providing scholarships to the MCC & Fulda High Schools for 2018-2019 year. The lodge will also be selling raffle tickets for $5, for a chance to win a child’s playhouse. This raffle drawing will be held on Saturday August 18th at the Murray County Fair.

Bring your lawn chair and come to Gullord Park for an evening meal, enjoy a musical concert, and support a local cause.  What could be a better “Get Together!”

Maybe you saw the Community Band in the Fulda parade July 18th?  If you missed them there, they will be in the Pipestone Parade on Sat., June 23rd, and the Slayton Parade on Sat., August 19th.

Slayton Heroes Behind the Badges Community Blood Drive Scheduled, Blood Donations in Critical Need

Slayton, MN-Murray County Law Enforcement, EMS and Murray County Fire Department will be competing to see who can recruit the most blood donors for the community’s blood supply in the 12th annual “Heroes Behind the Badges” community blood drive.  All who donate will receive a free Subway lunch and an All American Blood Donor t-shirt.  All blood types are in urgent need as we approach the July 4th holiday!  

The “friendly competition” between the departments will be held at Murray County Medical Center on Wednesday, June 27 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm.  The public is encouraged to come in to donate and designate their donation to the department of their choice. The department credited with the most blood donations will receive a trophy and bragging rights for a year. 

Blood is needed each day in the United States to sustain the lives of patients in need. Whether used for surgery, traumas, during cancer treatment or other life threatening medical conditions, blood is used to provide hope.  There are many blood suppliers throughout the country, some are very large blood providers, some a little smaller and others are hospital operated.  Community Blood Bank is hospital operated with a joint shared resource of Avera and Sanford Health Systems, meaning when you donate on the bloodmobile the donation will go directly back to Murray County Medical Center to save local lives.  

“The summer months are considered some of the most difficult when keeping up with the demand for blood products within our community,” states Ken Versteeg, Executive Director, Community Blood Bank.  “There are many weeks where our usage is outpacing collection by 40%.  Our hope is to start the summer months strong with an ample blood supply and keep this momentum moving to avoid any summer blood shortages.  Join us to save lives within the community and show your support for those who serve and impact the community in many ways.”  

Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with a signed parent consent form found at, weigh 110 lbs. or more and be in good general health the day of the blood drive.  Community Blood Bank is proud to be the sole provider of blood to Murray County Medical Center for over 16 years.  For more information or to make an appointment please call 836-1286.  Walk-ins are welcome.

Community Blood Bank is a self-sufficient blood bank cooperative of Sanford and Avera McKennan Hospital and is not associated with any other blood bank organization.

Celebrate 70 Years of Weight-Loss Success With TOPS® Local Chapter Welcomes All Visitors

Fulda, MN- For 42 years, the men and women of TOPS MN #1037 Fulda have met each week to discuss weight loss, nutrition, portion control, exercise and self-care. TOPS®, which stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly, is the nonprofit weight-loss support organization with well over 100,000 members across the U.S. and Canada.

As part of the organization’s 70th anniversary this year, TOPS® chapters everywhere are inviting their communities to start their own weight-loss journeys. “Joining TOPS MN #1037 Fulda is like being part of a big, supportive family” says Co-Leader, Gerry Ossefoort.

“We’re so fortunate to be a part of this TOPS chapter that has helped so many of us live healthier lives. Our weekly meetings are such a great way to stay on target, and we welcome anyone, men and women, looking for weight-loss support to start - or continue - their weight­ loss journey with us” says Chapter Leader Rhonda Cousins,  “Your first meeting is free of charge - bring a friend, spouse or neighbor, if you’d like. There’s no obligation to join whatsoever” says Treasurer Diane Kirchner.

Together, TOPS®   members lose about 300 tons every year. According to independent studies published in major medical journals the TOPS® program has been proven just as effective as more expensive commercial programs.

“TOPS® isn’t for those who just want  to  lose 20  pounds  for  a  class reunion  or  wedding,” says Rick Danforth, President TOPS Club Inc. “We promote long-term, lasting change that is going to require some work and accountability - but it’s so worth it in order to have a healthier, happier Iife.”

Weekly TOPS® meetings, which usually last an hour or less, are held at the Fulda City Hall on Thursday (Weigh In is at 9:00am, Meeting begins at 9:30.) For more details, call Rhonda Cousins at 507-335-7783, Gerry Ossefoort at 507-360-9360, Diane Kirchner at 507-425-2748, Kathi Duerr at 507-360-9054 or Dana Hogan at 507-360-1760 or vistt or call TOPS® Headquarters at 800-932-8677. Membership is affordable at just $32 per year in the U.S. and $44 (CAD) per year in Canada, plus nominal chapter dues.

Chandler American Legion Auxiliary

The Chandler American Legion Auxiliary met on May 17 with President Patsy Buys presiding.  The Chaplain opened the meeting with prayer.

For old business, it was reported a wheel chair was returned.

Patsy also reported bringing food to the home of a new widow whose husband had passed away. He had been a Veteran. The Auxiliary thanked her for doing this.

For new business, Patsy and Audrey planned to take students around Chandler to distribute poppies. The Auxiliary would like to thank those that contributed to the Auxiliary Poppy Program. Funds will be used for different activities for Veterans and their families.

Arlene had the Memorial Day program planned and bulletins printed. Patsy and LeRoy and their grandchildren planned to place flags on both cemeteries.

It was decided that Mavis will be the new treasurer. Arlene will help her with taking this new office.

With no further business, the meeting closed with prayer and the singing of “America”.

The Legion joined the Auxiliary for lunch served by Linda Stevens. The next meeting is Tuesday, June 19 at 7:00pm (note change of time). Mary Van Eck is hostess.

Murray County Master Gardeners Hosting  Summer Garden Tour on July 12

Make plans now to attend the 2018 Murray County Master Gardeners’ Summer Garden Tour on Thursday, July 12 from 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Currie/Tracy/Walnut Grove area.  Hosts this year include Tina & Bill Richards, Dale, Angie & Danny DeSmith, Sharon & Randy Hohler, Jesse James, Terry & Janet James, and Howard & Judy Hamilton.

Vegetable and flower gardens will be included in the tour, as well examples of unique landscaping features.  A rain date has been set for July 13; listen to KJOE Radio 106.1 FM for postponement announcements.

Tickets and maps will be available from all Murray County Master Gardeners, University of Minnesota Extension in Murray County, and Lake Wilson and Slayton banks beginning June 28.  Tickets will also be available for purchase at any of the garden sites during the tour on July 12.  Tickets are $5.00, with proceeds going to community garden projects.  

These gardens will offer a wide variety of plants and landscaping.  Participate in the tour on July 12 to see the beautiful gardens and get some ideas for your own projects.

Murray County Master Gardeners are David Bau, Gaylene Chapman, Colleen Gengler, Mona Henkels, Betty Kassel, Matt Meier, Marilyn Moger, Jan Scherbart, Kathy Schwartz, and Patty White.  

Call University of Minnesota Extension-Murray County Office at 507-836-6927 if you have questions regarding the tour.