Farm Horizons, Dec. 2017

Thalmanns honored as McLeod County Farm Family of 2017

by Nan Royce, Staff Writer
with University of Minnesota Extension

The family behind Thalmann Seeds has been an operational family farm since 1877.

Thalmann’s farm is located south of Plato in McLeod County. For the first 90 years, the farm raised crops and livestock. The livestock was discontinued, and crop acres were expanded in the early 1970s. In the ‘70s, the Thalmanns also began a certified seed cleaning business.

“My grandfather began cleaning some grain for himself and others in the 1950s, Brian Thalmann recollected. Once the livestock was discontinued in the late 1960s, the decision was made to start expanding the seed business to add value to the crops being produced by the farm operation. This expansion began in the early to mid-1970s.

“My great-great-grandfather homesteaded the 80 acres across the road from our current farm site in 1877,” Brian said. “In the early 1900s, my ancestors purchased the farm site we currently are on. The original building site was removed on the 80 acre parcel. Our family has been farming that parcel for 140 years.”

Brian operates Thalmann Seeds with his father, Randall, and his son, Adam. They produce commercial corn and soybean seed on 2,000 acres and have a seed conditioning facility. Thalmann Seeds cleans and packages soybean seed for Stine Seed Company, and other grains for seed and food uses.

Brian indicated what the family farm produces has definitely changed throughout the decades.

“My father graduated from high school in 1964,” Brian stated. “He said the livestock facilities were in need of updating and he didn’t have the desire to expand into that area.

That is when he and my grandfather chose to discontinue milking cows and raising livestock. Among the most significant decisions was the move to get rid of their cows and turn full attention to their crops.

Since Brian works with both his father and son, he is part of a “sandwich generation.” To him, this is a good thing.

“There aren’t too many people that have the opportunity to be part of three generations working side-by-side in their business,” Brian said. “Dad and I have had a good understanding of the roles that we each have taken on over the years, and now our son is able to join the family team. Open communication is very important to help keep our family members and great employees all on board with day-to-day and longer term goals.”

Brian and his wife, Karen, have three children: Eric, their oldest, just graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in actuary science.

Adam, the middle child, is a senior at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School, and planning on attending a second year agriculture program after high school, before becoming a partner in the farm operation.

Emily is a junior at GSL, and is exploring various college and career paths at this time.

Brian is a graduate (Class V) of the MARL program. He is treasurer of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, a member of the National Corn Growers Ethanol Action Team, and sits on the Heartland Corn Products and McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers boards. He is also president of GSL FFA Ag Promoters.

He said he makes time to serve with these organizations because “I love agriculture, and what it has to offer, and want to help insure that future generations will be able to do the same.”

“We need to add value to the products that are produced, and keep as much of that added value in our local communities. The ethanol industry has done just that. The organizations I am involved in work to add value to ag products, while always working to help farmers become better stewards of the land. If no one steps up to the plate to help lead, and set a direction for our ag industry, others may do it for us and we may not like the results,” he explained.

Each of the Thalmann children has served in leadership roles in 4-H and FFA.

“We have deep roots in agriculture and our rural area, and we feel these two programs are so important for the youth of today to develop and grow their own leadership experiences,” Brian said. “These two programs have strong ties to the rural life ethic that is so important to our state and nation. Most employers around highly value people who have a FFA or 4-H background.”

Thalmann credits his family business success to the hard work of previous generations, and the continuing hard work his family puts into the operation now.

“We have a great family and employee team,” he said. “Our business motto is ‘Quality and Experience that you can Trust.’” he said.

“We try to pay attention to the small details, and always work toward improving the land that we farm. We are not afraid to use new technology as it fits into our operation.”

Brian admitted the farming life might not be for everyone. He says it could be, if the interested individual has an honest understanding of the work involved.

“There are many opportunities in agriculture besides farming, whether it be in the supply side to farmers, or in the processing and distribution of the products that are produced,” Brian said. “Consider one of these opportunities to get involved in agriculture, if you are not able to start farming on your own.”

Brian said he has many goals to keep his family on their farm, as long as they remain happy to be there.

“To continue to maintain a safe, neat, and productive farm and seed operation while always evaluating future opportunities as they become available are the goals,” Brian stated.

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