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Minnesota crop yields off to bad start

Plus: farmers and the Trump administration; few smoke-friendly rental options; driver pleads guilty to shooting bus driver; Agriculture Department warns of oak blight; and more.

corn field
Grim harvest ahead. The Forum News Service’s Michelle Rook reports (via the West Central Tribune): “Most farmers in the Corn Belt will look back on the 2019 planting season as one of the biggest disasters they’ve ever faced. That was true in Minnesota where farmers faced relentless rain, flooding and historic prevented planting acres. … Bob Worth farms near Lamberton in southwest Minnesota, which was hit the worst. He says he’s never taken prevented planting on his farm until this year. … ‘Out of 2,300 acres that we farm, 1,800 is prevent plant, 200 acres of corn and 300 acres of soybeans is all we got in,’ he says.”

Farmers might not be able to count on much support from the top. The New York Times’ Alan Rappeport has a broader piece about farmers and the administration that kicks off at Farmfest: “Peppered with complaints from farmers fed up with President Trump’s trade war, Sonny Perdue found his patience wearing thin. Mr. Perdue, the agriculture secretary and the guest of honor at the annual Farmfest gathering in southern Minnesota this month, tried to break the ice with a joke. … ‘What do you call two farmers in a basement?’ Mr. Perdue asked near the end of a testy hourlong town-hall-style event. ‘A whine cellar.’ … A cascade of boos ricocheted around the room. … American farmers have become collateral damage in a trade war that Mr. Trump began to help manufacturers and other companies that he believes have been hurt by China’s ‘unfair’ trade practices.

Rental options for smokers go up in smoke. MPR’s Martin Moylan reports: “Near the Mississippi River, just across from downtown St. Paul, stands the West Side Flats, an apartment building where all 178 units are smoke-free. … Resident Mary Nelson said living in a smoke-free building was definitely a selling point for her. … ‘The air seems cleaner. It’s healthier,’ she said. … Nelson said smokers living in the building go across the street to light up. ‘If you do smell smoke, it’s not the norm,’ she said. … For nonsmokers like Nelson, it’s easy to find apartments where you shouldn’t catch a whiff of tobacco. Thousands of apartment buildings in Minnesota have declared themselves smoke-free.

Remember this? WCCO reports: “Kenneth Lilly, 32, pleaded guilty Monday to opening fire on a school bus driver in the middle of a February snow storm on Interstate 35W. … Investigators say the bus scraped Lilly’s car as it was trying to merge onto the interstate in Minneapolis on the afternoon of February 5. Minnesota Department of Transportation cameras show Lilly getting out of his vehicle and approaching the bus while they were stopped in traffic.”

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Great, another tree blight. The St. Cloud Times’ Jenny Berg reports: “After a fungus-like organism known to kill oak trees was spotted in the Midwest, officials are asking Minnesotans to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease. … The invasive species Phytophthora ramorum, which causes sudden oak death, has killed an estimated 30 to 45 million oak trees in forests in California and Oregon, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.”

In other news…

Noted presidential victory expert:Amy Klobuchar’s mentor, a former vice president, sees a path forward — and a Plan B” [ABC News]

Sounds like more than a screw loose:Suspect arrested after screws, nails thrown on Sherburne Co. roads” [KARE]

Sorry River Raft fans:Popular State Fair ride not open to fairgoers after mechanical problem” [KSTP]

Coffee biz buzz:Caribou opening Little Blue Cabins for drive through, walk up service” [Pioneer Press]

Bear scare:Apostle Islands’ Outer Island partially reopened after bear activity closure” [Duluth News Tribune]