So a logger walks into a room full of farmers...
Minnesotans may be seeing white after our February blizzard, but the farmers in Douglas County are thinking spring green. The Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers Association held its annual meeting on Monday, February 11 at the Long Lake Lodge in Brandon.
Attendees renewed their Minnesota Corn and Minnesota Soybean Growers memberships, mingled with area farmers and caught up on the progress during the past year.
"Without us, it would be difficult for America to do what they do every day," said Jeffrey Larson of Brandon. Larson is on the Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers Association and Minnesota Soybean Growers boards. Larson was presented with a plaque for his accomplishments, including being an original starter of the corn grower group.
Considering that between 80 and 98 percent of Minnesota is experiencing drought, what Douglas County farmers do for America may be more challenging this spring.
"Good rains, or very timely rains, could provide a good yield this year," said Tom Grundman, Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers president.
The Minnesota Soybean Growers were fortunate enough to wrangle guest speaker Bruce Vincent, Grundman said. Vincent delivered a message on responsible environmentalism.
Vincent, a third-generation logger from Libby, Montana, said that Minnesota is a unique environment because the state has a microcosm of everything: metro, agriculture, mining and timber industries. He said that 97 percent of logging businesses are family operations, much like many farms.
"To operate as a logger, and as a farmer, you need to have consent of the public, a social license," Vincent said.
One hot button issue Vincent often encounters is water protection, how to keep the balance between agriculture and clean water. He said there is a disconnect between the urban policy makers and the rural agriculture farmers.
"Our problem is ignorance," Vincent said. "The public's ignorance of who we are and what we do."
Vincent said when people find out he's a logger they think he's an "axe murdering Neanderthal." For every tree that Vincent Logging cut down, six were planted. Vincent said there is a deep sense of stewardship that accompanies working with the land.
"We domestically need to look at what we consume and what we produce," Vincent said.
Following Vincent's presentation, Larson addressed the group and began the annual meeting. Larson also had a local message to deliver:
"If the farm bill doesn't pass, thousands of people will lose jobs at the same time."
The 23rd annual KIKV Alexandria Area Ag show provided a way for area farmers to network at Viking Plaza Mall on February 12 and 13.
FARMING FOR THE FUTURE
Vincent has testified before Congress on resource issues, appeared on 60 Minutes and received the inaugural Presidential Preserve America Award from President Bush in 2004. In addition to numerous awards and national speaking engagements, Vincent is president of Communities for a Great Northwest, executive director of Provider Pals and a co-owner of the public relations firm, Environomics.
Vincent passionately encouraged area farmers to get involved with Provider Pals. The organization connects children in city classrooms with farmers, ranchers, loggers and other tradespeople. Classrooms "adopt" a worker who teaches them about their trade.
"Kids are starving for it," Vincent said.
Randy Satterlie with Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers said the program sounds like a great idea and more activism roles are needed to help educate the community. For more information on Provider Pals, visit www.providerpals.com.
Along the lines of education, the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council is accepting applications for the 2013 Minnesota Soybean Ambassador program and scholarships.
Students who are 18 to 22 years old and are enrolled in a two to four-year post-secondary education program related to agriculture are eligible to become an ambassador. Graduating high school seniors involved in agriculture and pursuing a qualifying major and college juniors or seniors who are working toward a degree in soybean agronomy, soil science, soybean genetics, food sciences, animal nutrition or large animal veterinary may be eligible for scholarships. For more information, call 1-888-896-9678 or visit www.mnsoybean.org. Deadline is March 1, 2013.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.