Four incumbents re-elected to Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

MCR&PC election results:
District 1, 2 and 4: Dwight Mork
District 7: Richard Peterson
District 8: Jerry Demmer
District 9: Martin Amundson

The four farmers elected to the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council represent some 27 years of collective experience and service to this organization which invests dollars generated by the sale of corn in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture organized the MCR&PC elections and verified the results; Dwight Mork of Bellingham represents MCR&PC Districts 1, 2 and 4 in the western region of the state; Richard Peterson of Mountain Lake represents District 7 in southwestern Minnesota; Jerry Demmer represents MCR&PC District 8, in the southeast region of the state; and Martin Amundson represents District 9, in the east central area of Minnesota.

All four agree that the foremost issue for the Council is water quality. They support the ongoing research efforts into best management practices that maintain productivity while limiting environmental impact, and they see communication as a major priority with a focus on farmers’ commitment to water quality and environmental stewardship

Peterson, 68, returns for his fourth term on MCR&PC. He has also served in the past as president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association and has been a board member for National Corn Growers Association.

Peterson serves as liaison between MCR&PC and one of its major research partners, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute–an organization established by an act of the Minnesota Legislature. One of Peterson’s aims is to continue to cultivate partnerships like the one with AURI, which leverage MCR&PC funds and make them go farther by sharing the cost of projects with partners.

In particular, Peterson hopes blender pump ethanol infrastructure will be a main focus for MCR&PC this term.

Peterson attended a recent meeting hosted by the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, in which US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed a group of elected officials, clean air supporters and agricultural commodity organizations to reiterate the Obama administration’s support for ethanol. In particular, Vilsack announced that USDA’s FSA-Rural Development agency would serve as a conduit for cost share money that would pay part of the cost of installation of blender pumps. The administration has set a goal of 10,000 blender pump installations in the next five years, each allowing motorists to choose their own blend of ethanol and gasoline, from E10 to E85 and a number of intermediate blends.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson were among the elected officials in attendance.

Another MCR&PC veteran, Jerry Demmer, 58, a farmer in Clark’s Grove, Minnesota, continues at the Council with nine years of service to his credit. Demmer feels that in addition to work on the water quality issue, ethanol remains a top priority, which must focus on educating the public that corn-based ethanol is not merely a transitional fuel but will play a continuing role as a high quality, domestically-produced, renewable fuel. Other fuels can be added as choices, too, but ethanol remains the foundation, both to assure energy independence and to keep American agriculture a prosperous enterprise. This in turn keeps rural communities throughout the country vibrant.

“Water quality and ethanol are top issues,” said Demmer. “We also need to be good partners with the livestock industry, to be as supportive as we can with them on any research. Both growers and livestock farmers win when we continue to improve the quality, usefulness and low cost of the ethanol co-product DDGS and how that works nutritionally and economically. In our efforts to educate the public about farmers, we need to communicate our values. The land is a resource for everyone, but no one depends on it more than farmers. We want to do the best job we can to protect that for future generations. We can’t just look out a year or two ahead, but have to look out toward future generations. As we move forward we use the knowledge we have on farm practices. That knowledge continues to evolve. You can see it in the growing adoption of minimum tillage practices for row crops.”

Dwight Mork, who farms about 10 miles from the South Dakota border in Lac Qui Parle County, has served three years representing his region on the Council and he hopes this term to encourage the spread of a program Lac Qui Parle growers have been trying out, getting students and adults from the town out to the farm to ride in the farm equipment and see firsthand what today’s agricultural producers are up to.

Mork has just this past November been named to NCGA’s Trade and Biotechnology Action Team, joining MCR&PC Rep. David Ward, an experienced member of that national committee.

“The seed companies come and connect with the Trade and Biotechnology committee and discuss ideas for traits, how to set up the refuges that prevent resistance, and ideas for new input products,” said Mork, who feels he is just beginning to learn the work of that committee. “We come from all different parts of the country, and they all contribute their different ideas, so these agribusinesses that serve farmers get a bigger picture of the needs out there.”

Martin Amundson, 31, has represented the east central region for three years and sees firsthand the controversy over water quality and the impact of agriculture on the waters of Lake Pepin. He is hopeful that research underway with farmer support can show exactly what is coming from farms and what management practices would offer water quality benefits. Farmers have been working on these issues for many years, Amundson points out, so that one of MCR&PC’s key roles is to publicize information about what farmers are doing as stewards of the land.

“Promotion and communication with the public is a never-needing process,” said Amundson. “As time goes on, it gets to be more and more important to connect with the friends who are not farmers to let them know how we are keeping food healthy, economical and in good supply. We are supporting research to increase production while we reduce our carbon footprint each year. Another important message is that farmers are working hard to continually increase production so we will be able to feed a world population that will nearly double in just a couple of generations.”

Amundson also hopes that MCR&PC supported communications also speak to the farmers themselves. As a young farmer, Amundson knows that recruiting the next generation of agricultural producers is another necessary role for MCR&PC and other farmer organizations. He said, “We are some of the most efficient farmers in the world and deal with one of the most challenging climates for raising crops here in Minnesota. We have success with a diverse range of products in livestock and crops. Opportunities are there for young farmers if they are willing to take the risk and get into it.”

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