Covering Coronavirus: Farming and Ag on Compass
Email share
Photo of

Download a photo of Amanda Anderson and Thom Peterson.

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Pioneer PBS is bringing its rural perspective to the conversation around coronavirus and how the pandemic is impacting Minnesota’s farming and agriculture sector on the next Compass program. The special will air Thursday, March 26 at 9 p.m. and will rebroadcast on Sunday, March 28 at 12:30 p.m. It will be viewable online at after the original airing.

The special will replace the regularly scheduled episode, “State of Our Kids: Grow Our Own,” which can be streamed online at and on the free PBS video app.

Compass interviewed Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and Chippewa Country farmer and Pioneer PBS board chair Mark Olson. Petersen and Olson provided unique perspectives on how farmers are planning for the upcoming growing season and what kind of aid will be available for farmers. Commissioner Petersen praised Minnesota businesses, grocery store workers and talked about ways farmers are adapting.

“With ethanol, we’re looking at using some of the alcohol for hand sanitizers,” Petersen said. “And also parts pickups for farmers who are getting all of the equipment ready, spending a lot of time in their shops right now, making sure everything’s ready. Curbside pickup for parts is one thing I heard that is really interesting, so I think there are a lot of good steps our companies are taking.”

In an interview with Easy Bean Farm co-owner Michael Jacobs, Jacobs explained how their small farming operation is thinking about adapting their operations. “The things that I’m thinking about now are potentially putting in more storage crops for next fall with the potential that if the system is deeply disrupted, it may be nice for our area, for our local community, to have more stuff that’s already here.”

Jacobs co-owns the organic farm with his wife Malena Handeen outside of Milan. They raise about 12 acres of organic vegetables and distribute them to their Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) members throughout Minnesota.

Finally, Nicole Zempel of Granite Falls talks about her passion and a naturally socially distant activity, mushroom hunting and exploring the woods in Pioneer PBS’s new, experimental digital series, The View From Here.

Viewers with story ideas and issues they would like to see discussed on Compass are encouraged to contact Pioneer PBS via email at or call the station at 1-800-726-3178.

About Pioneer PBS

Established in 1966, Pioneer PBS is an award-winning, viewer-supported television station dedicated to sharing local stories of the region with the world. For more information visit: