Farm Horizons, April 2017
Corn and Soybean Growers give voice to local producers
By Mark Mitten
The McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers is a local organization overseen by 10 board members, giving voice to the corn and soybean producers of McLeod County.
“We provide a connection to state growers at the local level,” said board member Brian Thalmann. He noted that there are several members on the board who help provide the access to broader statewide programs. Thalmann is the treasurer for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association; Bob Lindeman represents McLeod County as a board member of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association; and Karen Johnson is the new Extension educator for both McLeod and Meeker counties.
Part of the mission of the McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers is to promote the many corn and soybean-based products: biofuels and bioethanol blends, as well as industrial, food, drug and cosmetic products. In addition to promotion, the Corn and Soybean Growers take a hands-on approach to community support.
“We wanted to give back to youth in the area,” Thalmann explained. “We started a program to give out up to four $500 scholarships for agriscience, food technology, marketing, and other career possibilities.”
The organization also awards scholarships to the local chapters of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), support the local 4H program, and donate to other programslike the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW), which helps keep the Crow River watershed clean with its annual river cleanup day.
“We also help sponsor University of Minnesota management seminars in the county,” Thalmann added. “Like the Farmer Fatigue Program, which takes care packages to local farmers.”
Every year, the McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers celebrate with the farming community by holding an annual banquet and appreciation night. This event, now in its 33rd year, took place in Glencoe at the Pla-Mor Ballroom on January 28. More than 145 people filled the room, and were treated to a full meal, door prizes and guessing games, and a number of guest speakers.
There were also students from the Glencoe Silver Lake High School Supermileage Team present, with one of their high mileage cars on display. The GSL Supermileage Team is another youth program that the McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers support.
Thalmann was the banquet master of ceremonies, and he introduced the speakers and oversaw the award presentations throughout the evening.
Johnson, as the newest member of the board, was welcomed and given the opportunity to explain her role in the farming community as county Extension Educator. She expressed her desire to connect University of Minnesota resources with local farmers.
The youth programs that the McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers sponsor were also highlighted at the event. Scholarship checks were presented to the Glencoe/Silver Lake FFA and Hutchinson FFA chapters. Three $500 scholarships were also awarded to high school graduating seniors Mason Ahlbrecht, Mitchell Kettner, and Nicholas Brelje.
John Olsen, public works manager for the City of Hutchinson, presented his findings regarding a soybean-based pavement sealer called Replay.
It is a product that is designed to extend the life of paved roads. Olsen has spent several years testing the product in Hutchinson, and he believes it will be effective in reducing roadwork re-surfacing and maintenance costs. He estimated that the product could preserve a street surface an additional five to nine years.
“The Replay product uses 100 bushels of soybeans for every lane of road mile. An average two-lane width road would use 200 bushels of soybeans per mile to apply the product,” Thalmann noted. “I think we’ve got a great partnership we can put together with the infrastructure folks in our state.”
Because of Olsen’s role in testing and promoting the bio-based product in Hutchinson, he was chosen to be the recipient of the 2017 Friend of Agriculture Award.
The featured speaker for the evening was Lynn Ketelsen, Farm Director and award-winning broadcaster for the Linder Farm Network radio news. In 2016, Ketelsen was inducted into the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Hall of Fame, which recognizes pioneers in the farm broadcasting industry. He was the first to set up radio farm broadcasting in the state of Minnesota.
“Americans want more food choices than ever before,” Ketelsen observed. “Organic, lactose-free, gluten-free, GMO, non-GMO, antibiotic free, local produce, and a whole lot more. This is okay for agriculture. This is not a bad thing. It is giving more shelf space to food stuffs in agriculture.”
He also addressed the current political changes in America, and how they may affect the farming industry. Overall, he was very optimistic. He described the new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, in positive terms. He also singled out the new presidential administration’s desire to reduce federal regulation.
“I think this is a plus we have coming. There has been too much regulation,” Ketelsen said. “The Enviromental Protection Agency has overreached on some issues. We need to get it down to more common sense.”