Agriculture Reporter | Agriculture

Christopher Vondracek covers agriculture for the Star Tribune.

Vondracek has reported on prairie dog lawsuits in the Black Hills to federal education policy in Washington D.C. A native of Faribault County, Minnesota, he's a graduate of the University of South Dakota, holds an MFA from Hamline University, and taught college English for many years in Winona and St. Paul. His debut collection of poetry, Rattlesnake Summer, was published in 2020, and his memoir, Dancing with Welk, in 2022. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Carrie, and daughter, Rosie.


Chefs convene with farmers in northeast Minneapolis to talk farm policy

The gathering, orchestrated by the Chefs for Healthy Soil movement, comes as the federal Farm Bill remains stalled in Washington, D.C.


Federal funds help launch halal goat meat slaughterhouse in central Minnesota

Clean Chickens started with a mobile poultry-processing unit. The owners of that business will next establish another facility to meet a growing need in the state: a halal meat processor.


A rural Minnesota meat locker goes up in flames, but the business isn't down for good

Cattle producers and butchers in the area say an emerging resilience after decades of decline is helping forestall greater problems in the small meat-processing world.


Minnesota sheep on the lam in Zumbrota evades police but not a cowboy's lasso

Videos from the Zumbrota Police Department document their pursuit of the furry baaaaandit.


Camelina is the crop of jet fuels and cleaner waters. But will farmers grow it?

The winter-planted cover crop has sustainable possibilities in the future, but first, farmers need to know if the muscular, intermediate oilseed can actually grow during Minnesota's notoriously cold winters and mild springs. That starts with a field outside Chatfield.


University of Minnesota ag visionary, Forever Green Initiative founder Don Wyse dies

The University of Minnesota crop scientist helped develop Kernza and pennycress, key parts of the regenerative agriculture movement.


Produce farmers lack crop insurance. This flood has exposed the inequity.

Rains washed out farmland, including many fruit and vegetable crops, in south central Minnesota last month. U.S. agriculture policy historically hasn't protected those growers the same as row-crop farmers who feed animals and power biofuels.


What was a riverside bar in southern Minnesota is now an island

The Minnesota River has swallowed up summer fun for the region's residents, including patrons at this local establishment.


Hwy. 169 along the Minnesota River was rebuilt to withstand a 100-year flood. Sixteen years later, it's flooded.

Portions of Hwy. 169 near Le Sueur have been closed for days, blocking the commerce that flows through the region.


Minnesota rains mean 'some real agony' as farmers lose crops

Heavy rain comes after observers already measured "surplus" moisture for more than half the state's topsoil.