Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Minnesota farmers anxious over NAFTA negotiations

Plus: Albert Lea Mayo labor dispute continues; Franson meets with Democratic student group after initial dismissal; Duluth coffee roaster profiled in New York Times; and more.

REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Oh, right, remember this? MPR’s Mark Steil reports: “Minnesota farmers are following the NAFTA negotiations — which enter their fifth month in January — with one eye on their pocketbooks. … Food exports to Canada and Mexico are important money makers for the state’s agricultural economy, but if President Trump withdraws from the trade deal, as he’s threatened to do, farmers say they’ll lose millions. … That could very well be the case for the Spronk Brothers farm in southwest Minnesota, where hogs are the main source of income. … Randy Spronk said most of the meat from his animals will be sold in the U.S., but overseas sales are becoming an important trade market for him. More and more of his pigs are ending up on dinner tables in Mexico and elsewhere outside the U.S. ”

The Albert Lea Mayo labor dispute continues. The Rochester Post Bulletin’s Heather Carlson reports: “The standoff between Mayo Clinic and union employees prevented from returning to work after a one-day strike continues. … On Thursday, members of SEIU Healthcare ratcheted up their protests surrounding Mayo Clinic’s decision to block employees from returning to their jobs at Mayo Clinic Health System’s Albert Lea campus for a week. … About 30 people traveled to Rochester to picket in front of the Gonda Building. The protesters wore Santa hats and delivered a ‘Christmas present’ for Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy — lumps of coal. Other protesters gathered outside the Albert Lea campus.”

Kudos for doing the right thing, eventually. The Echo Press’ Al Edenloff reports: “State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, changed her mind and decided to meet with the Alexandria Area High School Democrats on Wednesday. … ‘I met with the Alexandria High School Democrats, and we had an engaging and productive discussion on the issues of climate change, college affordability and a carbon tax,’ Franson told the Echo Press on Friday morning. ‘I appreciate the assistance of Alexandria High School in helping to facilitate the meeting, and that we were able to meet in an appropriate venue. … I also apologized by stating I should have handled the situation better,’ Franson said. ‘Leaders are able to admit their mistakes and apologize.’”

Nice profile on a Minnesota business. The New York Times’ Dan Hyman reports: “As a child, Alyza Bohbot always respected the unflappable work ethic of her parents, who ran Alakef Coffee Roasters in Duluth, Minn. Still, in late 2014, when she was in her 20s, that didn’t stop her from warning them of their company’s potential downfall. … In Ms. Bohbot’s estimation, Alakef — a profitable enterprise that financed her voice lessons, provided for family vacations and allowed her to enroll at a private university — had grown stale.”

In other news…

Fair enough:Treehouse Records owner on closing legendary Mpls. shop: ‘I’m just tired of it’” [Star Tribune]

Article continues after advertisement

Interesting legal issues here:Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe sues drug companies over opioids” [Pioneer Press]

Lo sentimos:UnitedHealth plans $2.8B bid to grow South America business” [Mankato Free Press]

Don’t you hate it when the road gets covered with the white stuff:

Includes locally produced “Terrible, Thanks for Asking”:The 50 Best Podcasts of 2017” [The Atlantic]

RIP:‘Ms. Arnellia,’ beloved St. Paul club owner, dies at 79” [MPR]