Tom Haag elected to Minnesota Corn Growers board of directors

Eden Valley farmer Tom Haag was elected to Minnesota Corn Growers Association board of directors at the group’s annual meeting in January. It is a three-year term. He is one of three to join the two-dozen grower leaders drawn from across Minnesota to lead the 6,100-member commodity group.

Haag, 58, farms 490 acres that he splits between corn and soybeans. He is the fourth generation of the family to farm this land and next year it becomes a century farm.

As a member of two ethanol plants—Bushmill’s in Atwater and Chippewa Valley Ethanol Cooperative in Benson—Haag feels that ethanol may be the agricultural issue that is highest on his agenda.

“We need to continue to get the word out to people that ethanol is not this harmful thing that it is being made out to be by some groups,” said Haag. “It is an environmentally responsible and beneficial solution to the dwindling supply of oil—oil that hurts the air, water and climate much more than ethanol ever will.”

Haag’s other big interest when it comes to Minnesota Corn Growers is membership. When he joined up with Meeker County Corn Growers 15 years ago, and continuing through his seven years of service as president of the local commodity group, Haag has emphasized the need to grow membership rolls.

“We are a strong voice for farmers, and the more numbers we have, the stronger that voice is, when we talk about what farmers need to folks in St. Paul or Washington, or even at local city or county meetings,” said Haag.

Haag has farmed for 34 years and took over the family farm in 1979 when his father passed away. Education is another passion for Haag who received his education degree at St. Cloud University. He taught for several years before becoming a full-time farmer. For the past seven years, Haag has also worked as the junior varsity basketball coach at Eden Valley-Watkins High School.

Tom’s wife, Linda, teaches in the Eden Valley-Watkins school district. They have two sons; Nathan, 23, owns his own trucking business but also helps on the farm. Nathan was married to Cami in September. Tom and Linda’s son Lucas, 20, is pursuing a degree program in digital filming and editing and hopes to begin a career in video production.

Haag is looking forward to learning how the state corn grower association approaches issues and taps its grassroots membership, so he can contribute to the association’s work, especially educating the public about agriculture.

“I think it’s hard for people in the Cities to understand what we do out in the country,” said Haag. “In the thirty-plus years that Linda and I have been farming it has changed so much. It is more of a business than it was. Back then inputs were cheaper. You got your crop, you got the money, and you could do stuff. Now, with the higher price of inputs, we have to study and plan in much more detail just to come out ahead. Meanwhile, I think the public has the impression that we are just wall-to-wall corn and soybeans out here and that we just put down fertilizer and we don’t care about the land, or the environment—that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes we hope for a good crop and do what we can to make that happen, but we also want to preserve the land—I want this farmland to be productive for years to come, so Nathan can take it over, and his family after him.”

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