Farm Service Agency office gets new boss
Grant Herfindahl is the new director of Douglas County’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).
It’s a shared-management position; Herfindahl has supervised the Pope County FSA for 11 years and will continue duties there, managing both offices.
Herfindahl took on the shared-management job temporarily in Douglas County office last fall, but it became a permanent assignment on March 21 when no one applied for the vacancy at the Douglas County office.
“In the past it had been two small counties with limited activity would be sharing [a director],” Herfindahl said. “Now, with downsizing of government – everyone wants smaller government – there comes some real effects and one of those is staffing. Our staffing nationwide has dropped 20 percent in the last two years.”
There are 74 FSA offices in Minnesota and 17 use shared-management.
Herfindahl said he’ll work in the Pope County office on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the Douglas County office Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
There are eight people on-staff between the Douglas and Pope county offices.
“There are advantages to being in shared-management and one of those is I can move staff where they’re needed. That allows for specialization,” Herfindahl said. “One of the program technicians from Alexandria deals with records… so rather than train a new person [in Pope County] I can say to that technician, ‘Come on here and organize these records.’”
Herfindahl lives on a farm near Benson that has been in his family since 1871. He farmed full-time for 20 years before he started working for the FSA in 1995 in Litchfield.
Herfindahl said, “I’m excited to get to know more people [in Douglas County]. I appreciate any kind of invitation from groups that would like to know more about our farm programs.”
THE STATE OF LOCAL AG
When asked how things are looking for the local ag sector, Herfindahl reported: “In 2012 we had one of the best years in most people’s farming history – prices were high and commodity crops were very good. Dairy did not do quite as well then, but that’s come around again and they’re doing quite well. I think everyone had a reasonably decent year in 2013 – not great like 2012, but in 2013 the spring was late, crops didn’t dry properly; it was a challenging year. There was probably some carryover from 2012.
“Prices for 2014, especially corn, have been break-even and there’s been no great opportunity for sales. In the livestock sector, beef sector, I don’t think they’ve ever had prices as good as right now. So that’s a welcome thing for our beef producers because that’s usually not been a real profitable sector.
“Right now the spring appears to be a little late, but not significantly late at this point. Some years we would have had a lot of corn planted by now… I think most farmers would welcome a nice warm rain followed by sunshine. In most of this area, the subsoil is not fully recharged so once frost drops out, moisture will go down pretty quickly and dry out.”