Minnesota’s farmland bubble continues to inflate


The bubble is out there, and it is growing. Mark Steil of MPR says: “Minnesota farmland prices are rising at near record rates, according to the most recent estimate from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Federal Reserve officials say the higher prices reflect a strong agricultural economy. Some are concerned that land prices could be the next real estate bubble, but so far there’s no sign of a downturn. The Fed survey of bankers in its five-state area shows that farmers are bidding land prices to never-before-seen heights, in some cases over $10,000 an acre. In Minnesota, land prices at the end of September were about 28 percent higher than a year earlier, Federal Reserve officials say. Other Midwest states are seeing similar increases. South Dakota and Iowa are up about 30 percent and Nebraska nearly 40 percent.” Somewhere Goldman Sachs is collateralizing soybeans.

Abe Sauer, of one of the web’s more reliably astute sites, “The Awl”, goes all in on North Dakota’s battle to sell the energy it produces, no matter how it creates it: “North Dakota is suing Minnesota, alleging the Land of 10,000 Lakes is discriminating against it because it is black. Lignite black. Lignite coal black. The lawsuit contends that the Next Generation Energy Act — a law signed in 2007 by Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, which limits the amount of power Minnesota utilities can acquire from new fossil-fuel plants — violates the commerce clause of the Constitution. The federal rules, the suit argues, should force Minnesota to buy more of North Dakota’s coal-fired power. The EPA, the suit argues, is the only authority whose regulations should matter. Most experts have scoffed at the suit. But it’s made all the more bizarre by the fact that participant North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is also currently party to the legal challenge to ‘Obamacare,’ which accuses the feds of attempting to ‘usurp the general police power reserved to the States.’ The AG’s hypocritical participation in the coal lawsuit exemplifies how North Dakota is slowly becoming a proxy petrostate base of operations for the energy industry to launch a war against federal regulation.” The long-ish piece is a very good read.

Coincidentally, a commentary at the MPR site by Dustin Denison, president of a solar energy company, says: “As an installer of a variety of energy systems, I know that Minnesota could harness solar power and use it to create jobs and strengthen our economy while serving Minnesota’s energy demand. Just at my own company, I’ve been able to hire 15 people over the past year and a half. Minnesota’s solar potential compares to that of Florida and exceeds that of Germany — the world’s solar leader. Solar PV actually works better and more efficiently on our numerous cold, sunny winter days. An ability to harvest this free energy at times of peak energy usage, when it is most expensive, would be invaluable to Minnesotans. Our state spends more than $20 billion annually on imported energy. While we continue to spend a pile of money on dirty, imported sources of energy, we are letting our solar resource go untapped. Developing our solar industry would create numerous jobs and bring new businesses to our state. These are jobs that Minnesotans want and need. In 2010, the solar energy industry grew 67 percent — despite the downturn in the overall economy.”

So, according to this logic, if you run an ad for or against the gay marriage amendment but don’t mention the vote next November you don’t have to disclose your benefactors? The AP reports: “Campaign-style ads that discuss the pros or cons of gay marriage but don’t specifically mention a 2012 vote on a Minnesota constitutional amendment will require less disclosure about who’s financing them, a state board determined today. State campaign finance regulators approved a two-tiered definition that governs what expenses are subject to disclosure of spending and contribution details. It could mean some financial information is shielded by creative wordsmiths in the debate over the ballot measure defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.”

Dec. 8 is another date that will live in infamy … as the anniversary of the killing of John Lennon. Jim McGuinn at the Current interviewed Yoko Ono when she was in town recently, and checks up with Curtiss A prior to his annual tribute to Lennon at Firtst Avenue.

An uber-liberal from the Minnesota Progressive Project confesses he’s a supporter of a Vikings stadium. But he’s frustrated. Eric Ferguson says: “[M]y frustration in being a stadium supporter is other stadium supporters. The Vikings have been terrible advocates for their own case, the highest profile grassroots group isn’t any better, and even the usually messaging-astute Mark Dayton has been a poor explainer. … Zygi Wilf recently bought a Manhattan apartment for $19 million. Perhaps he’s used to spending money however he wants without the press caring enough to report it. That’s an explanation for his utter blindness to the optics of how that particular transaction was going to look, but not an excuse. Does he not get he’s running a campaign? What his apartment has to do with a stadium is nothing, but spending that on an apartment when the public already feels it’s being asked to subsidize a billionaire makes me wonder if he really gets how politics works. … one of Mark Dayton’s strengths is his ability to articulate a straightforward message so the public is clear about his intention. His phrase ‘people’s stadium’ sounds good. Anybody know what it means? I guessed he meant the new stadium wold be used much like the Metrodome, and eventually that turned out to be right, but I shouldn’t have had to guess. Besides, anybody know how the Metrodome is used? The ‘people’s stadium’ argument is being made to people who don’t know how the Dome is used, and to people who think they know but are wrong, sometimes very wrong.”

In a commentary over at the Strib, Adam Platt makes several salient points on the logic of stadium planning: “This new stadium, if built principally with taxpayer dollars, must be built in downtown Minneapolis. It is the inevitable, prudent location. The region has invested billions in transit, parking and road infrastructure for a hub that efficiently handles hundreds of thousands of people attending sporting events each week. There are dozens of privately owned restaurants, shops, and watering holes already positioned to cater to them that would welcome the Vikings’ continued presence. To spend millions on infrastructure elsewhere in the metro area, duplicating investments already made in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, is the most mindless kind of ‘where’s mine’ public policy. Rather than acknowledge this reality (save for a few wise urban policy advocates), we pretend somehow the sites have equal merit.”

The fight is on. Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib says: “Gov. Mark Dayton has decided to fight the Ramsey County judge’s decision blocking an election among child care workers on unionization, according to his office. On Monday, Ramsey County Judge Dale Lindman  issued a temporary restraining order to stop the election that Dayton, through an executive order, had called for last month.  The judge, while saying he was respecting the governor’s executive powers, said he was not persuaded that the unionization vote had to occur so quickly. According to the state’s attorney general’s office, which represented Dayton in the matter, that left Dayton with three choices: fight allowing the restraining order from being converted into a temporary injunction at a January hearing; rescinding the executive order or appealing the temporary restraining order to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Dayton has decided to fight the order in January.”

Today in Bachmannia: How about a hip-hop-style video from an Iowa pastor ripping Newt Gingrich by comparing him to Kim Kardashian? Kevin Diaz of the Strib has the story (and the video): “A Sioux City pastor who has suggested a presidential marriage, as it were, between uber-conservatives Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, is pushing a new hip-hop video ripping front-runner Newt Gingrich for his personal failures as a serial husband. The Rev.Cary Gordon, president of PeaceMakers Institute and pastor of Sioux City’s Cornerstone Church, sent out 832,897 text messages to Iowans last week trumpeting his video calling for Bachmann and Santorum to join forces before the Iowa Republican Presidential Caucuses on January 3. The new video he’s pushing calls Gingrich ‘the GOP’s Kim Kardashian for his many infidelities on marriage — gay, straight and his own.’ Starring conservative filmmaker Molotov Mitchell, the video praises Bachmann, Santorum and Rick Perry for backing a pledge opposing same-sex marriage.” I hope you’ve never thought, “This can’t get any crazier.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/08/2011 - 04:04 pm.

    “To spend millions on infrastructure elsewhere in the metro area, duplicating investments already made in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, is the most mindless kind of ‘where’s mine’ public policy.”

    One might conclude that Adam Platt is persona non grata in Occupy land, eh Bri?

    And, hey…if Dayton blows the state “surplus” wad propping up the government union’s flimsy case, what’s he gonna tell the teachers union when Dooher shows up in Feb with his hand out?

    Payola isn’t easy these days, is it Bri?

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 12/08/2011 - 05:13 pm.

    More random reactions:

    There must be a new generation of Minnesota farmers, too young to remember the ’70s bubble and the ’80s collapse of ag land values that cost so many their farms.

    Mr. Sauer may be reliably astute on other matters, but his commentary on the North Dakota litigation is devoid of any meaningful information.

    Good policy might call for building any new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, but better policy would be to let the Vikings and the NFL build it themselves. (Why is it that no one’s mentioned the NFL’s $7 billion a year media deal and the Vike’s share in that pie during this conversation? I must have missed it in the many ads the Vikes have run recently extolling the virtues of a $650 million public expenditure.)

    Please, Santa, give me a Bachmann-Santorum ticket in 2012, so that the Republicans lose the House along with the Oval Office.

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