Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

MN Agriculture Commissioner Visits with Red Lake Leaders


The Petersen delegation visits with Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., Tribal Secretary Samuel Strong, Ponemah Rep Gary Nelson, and Red Lake Nation directors and staff concerned with farm and gardening sustainability.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Secretary Thom Petersen and several staff persons visited with Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., Tribal Secretary Samuel Strong, Ponemah Rep Gary Nelson, and Red Lake Nation directors and staff concerned with sustainable farming, gardening and land use on Tuesday morning, July 16, 2019 at the Red Lake Tribal Headquarters for a little over two hours.

Red Lake Nation has been exploring the possibilities of hemp farming for several years, so hemp was among the main subjects of discussion with the Commissioner's team.

According to Donna Bergstrom, Red Lake Government Affairs/MN, hemp farming was a main topic of conversation. "Hemp farming for CBD oil, fiber, and other products from hemp as well as any stake the state had in regulation were discussed," said Bergstrom. "Grants may be available this fall we were told, including value added grants. We can also apply for USDA farm bill grants and loans."

The group, according to Bergstrom, also discussed resources that would be needed to begin hemp cultivation including processing plants, land that can be developed, but need resources, there is a lack of funds to begin. There are opportunities for funding. The tribe will track when USDA guidelines come out.

Other issues discussed with Commissioner Petersen and his team included:

• Help dealing with the Emerald Ash Bore

• A report on the tribe's Portable Farmers Market just begun

• Collaborative issues with Health care, etc.

• Red Lake Buffalo farm, scheduled for a fall start with funding by the Tribal Council

• Community Gardens: U of MN Extension is assisting (Petersen and staff were given a tour of the gardens)

• Need for a tractor: possible grant or loan.

• Logging: BioChar is new trend; wood waste into fertilizer.

• Renewable energy efforts on Red Lake; Ag has some outreach for this.

Commissioner Petersen brought with him a decent sized group to introduce to their counterparts at Red Lake and nurture good relationships. "There's a lot of interest in getting to know Red Lake better," said Petersen. Others accompanying the commissioner included; Whitney Place, Assistant Commissioner; Patrice Bailey, Assistant Commissioner; Peder Kjeseth, Director of Government Relations; Ben Reimler, Commissioner's Executive Aide; and Martha Josephson, External Relations Manager.

More About Peterson and the MN Department of Agriculture

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Secretary Thom Petersen

Petersen was appointed Commissioner by Governor Tim Walz in January 2019. He served as the Director of Government Relations for Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) since 2002, working on behalf of MFU's farmer-members in both Washington, D.C. and St. Paul. He has a wide range of experience in state and federal farm policy, and travels to almost every county in Minnesota each year to fully understand how these policies affect farmers' daily lives.

The mission of the MN Department of Agriculture is to enhance Minnesotans' quality of life by ensuring the integrity of our food supply, the health of our environment, and the strength of our agricultural economy.

Services include risk-management education, organic and sustainable ag technical support and dairy and livestock development support. Other services include dairy and food processing facility inspections, international market development, consumer food safety education, ag chemical spill response, and grocery store inspections.


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