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Bergey Family Farms reach "turning point"


Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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$8 hogs inspire new ventureBy Wayne PikeMonday, October 16, 2000

Jerry and Jodi Bergey of rural Lanesboro have been farming long enough to have seen lots of changes in the pork industry. Jerry grew up on the farm that he and Jodi now call home. Part of the farm has been in Jerry’s mother’s family for three generations and part has been in Jerry’s father’s family for four generations. Jerry farmed with his father, Gerald, until 1996, when Jerry took over on his own. Gerald still works with Jerry on a daily basis. Their homestead reflects the pride of a long history of family ownership and care.

Although each generation suffers its ups and downs, Jerry and Jodi hope that they have been through the worst in the hog business. Prior to December of 1998, they felt that their farming operation consisting of 150 sows, 75 beef cows, 120 acres of pasture, and 350 acres of cropland was working well for them. Then, in December of that year, the hog market fell apart. Jerry found himself delivering hogs at eight dollars per hundredweight or just twenty dollars per head. That price is about a hundred dollars per head below what many consider a reasonable profit level. Jerry says, "It was like getting up in the morning and throwing a five-hundred dollar bill out the window. I said that I would never get in that position again."

Attempting to avoid low hog prices is not easy. Jerry was already using standard hog contracts and more sophisticated hedges. Both of these techniques proved inadequate protection against bottom dollar prices. Soon after the December 1998 hog price debacle, Jerry and Jodi acted on an idea that had been in their minds for some time. They signed up for a course to learn how to market their pork directly to the people who were going to eat it. Lorentz Meats, a federally inspected livestock slaughtering, processing, and meat retailing business near Cannon Falls, Minnesota, conducted the course.

Students quickly learned that direct marketing meat is not an easy road to riches. Jerry says, "There were a lot of farmers in the class for the first session, but only three came back for the second." All the time consuming rules and details of direct marketing were too discouraging for most. Jerry persevered. Jodi says of Jerry, "He talked about doing it (direct marketing) for about a year – just playing with the idea, knowing what a good product we had and wanting other people to experience it. Once he ki .....
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Hoffman Stables

Candidate forum:

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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State Representative District 31BBy Al MathisonMonday, October 23, 2000

This year’s race for Minnesota State Representative for District 31B is between incumbent Greg Davids (R) and Al Hein (D). Davids was first elected t ..... 
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A Harry Potter party

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, October 23, 2000

Harry Potter has worked magic in Fillmore County, enticing both children and adults to become passionate readers. And I, too, have become a Harry Potter fan. In fact, as each new book was released I had to bargain with ..... 
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Journey back to childhood

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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By David ParkerMonday, October 23, 2000

By now, everyone has probably heard of the Harry Potter books written by J.K. Rowlings. These books are classified as children’s books. Consequently, many older people who would enjoy reading them have ..... 
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This work is not for the birds

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, September 4, 2000

I stand on the roof of our workshop holding the end of a rope. My husband has tied the opposite end around his waist so he doesn't slip as he hammers nails into our new metal roofing. Although I am alert to the danger ..... 
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Just a Juicy Little Tidbit

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, October 16, 2000

"What’s this?" One of the two teenaged boys impatiently thrusts an open plastic margarine tub in my face. "We found it out in the woods just lying on the ground coming back from our tree stands." At the bottom of their ..... 
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Recently released Minnesota books

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, October 16, 2000

Last month I attended the annual convention of the Upper Midwest Bookseller Association in downtown St. Paul, a gathering of authors, publishers and independent booksellers.

I was impressed, as I was last year, ..... 
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Halloween Goat Stories

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, October 23, 2000

October is Pork Month so I would like to use this opportunity to talk about goats. I might as well confess that I have not known a goat in any particularly meaningful way. From what I hear about goats, it is possible t ..... 
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A revolutionary idea

Sun, Oct 22nd, 2000
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Monday, October 9, 2000

"Are you going to watch the debates tonight?" someone asked me last Tuesday.

"No, I don't have a dog in that fight," I responded, using a George Bush, Sr. analogy for "No, I'm not going to watch the debates."
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