In Rochester, squeezed by health care costs despite the overhaul

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Rochester, Minn. — Health plan options through MNsure, the state’s insurance exchange, vary across Minnesota.

In some parts of the state, people can choose from numerous health plans with a variety of price tags. But in southeastern Minnesota, Rochester stands as the one part of the state where prices are high and options are few.

Now, many Rochester residents are starting to realize how being home to the Mayo Clinic affects health care costs across the region.

Stingless wasps: How much do they help in the fight to save ash trees?

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Great River Bluffs State Park, Minn. — It’s been three years since state and federal officials first released thousands of tiny stingless wasps on an island in the Mississippi River to combat the destructive emerald ash borer.

Now, researchers are using a new technique at one state park in southeastern Minnesota to measure the effectiveness of the wasps.

Millions of acres of alfalfa lost to drought, winterkill

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Mantorville, Minn. — It’s been a difficult spring for thousands of dairy farmers across the Midwest who rely on protein-rich alfalfa to feed their cows.

Farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin have lost nearly two million acres of alfalfa this year.

It’s a perennial crop that normally regrows after winter. But the punishing effects of last year’s drought weakened the plants, and the long, icy winter killed many of them off.

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