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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 1

Central Minnesota

Farm Edition Sowing the Seeds for Success!

A Special Edition published by




Inside this special edition you will find timely information, advertised products, services and specials from area ag businesses, as well as feature stories and more!

Thank You for supporting the advertisers who generously support this special edition. A Supplement to the following ag publications:


Country Acres

2 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

Haug Implement Co. values relationships BY DANNA SABOLIK Staff Writer

Haug Implement Co., a John Deere dealership, has been serving the communities of Willmar and Litchfield for more than 100 years. The family started and owned business has seen many milestones, and continues to find value in the strength of customer and employee relationships they build. “While our history and heritage are very important to our dealership, we also continually strive to be on the cutting edge with new equipment and technology developments,” said Holly Haug, marketing assistant. “Whether our customers have older equipment or the newest machines, our professional, experienced personnel are invested in supporting the customer’s parts and service needs.” The business began in 1918 when Gunder Haug started managing a farmer-owned cooperative in Pennock. Gunder later purchased the business, renaming it Haug Implement Co. His son, Donald Haug Sr., took over in 1955 and relocated it to Kerkhoven in 1960. Four years later, his son, Donald Haug Jr. or Butch, joined the growing business and moved near Willmar into a new facility on Highway 12. His son, Paal Haug, joined the business full-time in 1992 and is the current general manager. Community is important to the Haug family, and that shines through their customer service and relationships. “We like to know our customers, and we like them to know and trust us,” said Paal Haug, general manager. “In a day and age where it is more and more difficult to trust big companies, we want to shake

Donald Haug, Jr. (Butch) helped grow his family’s business, Haug Implement Co., to a new facility near Willmar in 1964. Haug Implement Co. is a John Deere dealership with locations in Willmar and Litchfield. ALL PHOTOS SUBMITTED

hands with our customers, look them in the eye, and have them know they can count on us.” When it comes to parts replacement, service repairs or shopping for something like a new utility vehicle, the Haug team is ready to help. “Our personnel are experienced, skilled and ready to do what it takes to keep the customer running,” Holly said. “We have a hard-working and dedicated staff who grow relationships with our customers every day.” Paal Haug is the general The dealership sells John Deere equipment manager of Haug Implement from large tractors and combines, to lawn mowers Co. and works with his father, and utility vehicles, along with other supporting Donald Haug Jr. (Butch), lines like Salford, Stihl, Demco, Farm King, Fast, to manage the John Deere dealership’s two locations in Felling and Killbros. Willmar and Litchfield. The “While we are strongly rooted in agriculture, dealership has been a Haug we also support contractors and landscapers with family business since 1918. construction equipment as well as home owners, hobby farmers and lawn care professionals with lawn and turf equipment,” Paal said. Being local helps Haug Haug Implement Co. opened their second Implement Co. with their location in 1964 near Willmar, along customer service focus, one of Highway 12. The John Deere dealership relationship building. is managed by its fifth generation, “It is vital that our business, Paal Haug, and has another location in our owners and our staff to be local so that we can really Litchfield. get to know our customers individually, understand their operations, and help them to succeed in their own businesses,” Holly said. “We know the farming community in our area, understand the crops and livestock grown here, know the difference in the land and soils from place to place, and try our best to help customers find and maintain the best equipment for their operation.”

Paal Haug

Wade Roemeling

Chris Gadient

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Sales Manager Hometown: Atwater

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Service Manager Hometown: Spicer

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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 3


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4 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 5

Ready when you need them Farm Systems provides constant care BY DANNA SABOLIK Staff Writer

Farmers tend to land and livestock to feed the world, and much of their operations rely on trustworthy equipment. When this equipment fails, it costs time and money. Farm Systems of Melrose is proud to be on the scene when they are needed, and ready to help however they can. “Without farmers and their work, we have no food supply,” said Ken Schneider, associate vice president. Schneider started at the company 13 years ago as a service and sales individual, working his way through sales manager and is An equipped team of salesmen, service now the associate vice president of the dealership. He works with a general manager out of Farm technicians and specialists work together to deliver whatever is needed to farmers. Systems’ corporate office in Shawano, Wisconsin. “We work 24/7/365,” Schneider said. “Most “I don’t like titles,” Schneider said. “We’re all on the same team, and I trust my team to do a good employees come from an agricultural background job. The better we work together, the easier it is for everybody.” The company serves dairy farmers by providing DeLaval milking equipment, and Jamesway manure management and feeding equipment. “We serve all sizes of dairies,” Schneider said. “From the 50-cow dairy to the very large dairies, we offer the whole gamut.” The team in Melrose works with shops in Brookings, S.D., and St. wPeter as well, serving western south and central Minnesota,northwestern Iowa and South Dakota’s I-29 corridor.

and we all understand that without farmers, our business and communities would be devastated. They are the base of our rural communities.” The dealership supplies solutions that help improve the performance of farms for professional food producers. “Customer satisfaction is our number one priority,” Schneider said. “We can deliver almost any farm product to the farm except pharmaceuticals. We can bring chemical, parts or paper towels to help you with your needs.” Schneider is proud to work with his team, and values their teamwork mindset as well. “I have great people who work with me and are distinguished in their careers,” he said. “They understand their job well. We have a great team and I love working with them.” The team also has a dairy advisory group on staff who help analyze farms’ data and provide customized recommendations while working with a veterinarian and nutritionist. “If you want more milk production, or if something’s not working, they can help,”Schneider said. “We want to get you firing on all cylinders, so we help repair the one that’s lacking.” Farm Systems’ staff is prepared to help with breakdowns, repairs and preventative maintenance. “Breakdowns cost money, and we want to help (farmers) avoid that,” Schneider said.


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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 7

Keys for a successful farm transition BY SARAH COLBURN Staff Writer

Each year, many farmers across Minnesota get ready to retire or pass the family farm on to the next generation. This can be a stressful and overwhelming task but, with the help of someone like Bethany Cross, an attorney with Rinke Noonan, the process can be simplified. Cross has extensive experience working with clients to develop individualized goals and writing farm succession plans and farm estate plans. “I think it’s hard for farmers to talk specifically about farm succession planning, first because the farm is an asset they may have inherited and worked on their entire lives; some farmers I have worked with have been on the land since grade school. And second, the idea of losing control or not working the land anymore is a tough thing to think about,” Cross said. Farm plans or succession plans outline how to transfer the farm to the next generation, and estate plans outline how the farm should be handled in the event the owner dies. Families without a plan, Cross said, are often left to guess what their parents would have wanted, sometimes creating hard feelings between those who remained on the farm and those who have chosen to work off the farm. Other times, a lack of plan may leave a spouse without clear direction or guidance on how to manage the farm. There are many scenarios which can cause problems if the farmer’s siblings or adult children have been helping on the land, said Cross, as there’s only so much money to go around. Not only does the surviving spouse lose their partner, they may lose their farm and livelihood. A handshake can only go so far, Cross said, and outlining plans in a formal document protects everyone involved and leaves little room for interpretation. There are also ways to create legal documents to reduce tax liability and ensure the family farm stays in operation during transition periods. “If we’re trying to get the next generation involved … this should be a welcomed conversation,” Cross said. Those who do commit to planning often finish the process and tell Cross it was a lot easier than they thought it would be. She does say that enacting the plan, and having the next generation begin to call the shots when the first generation is still around and active is a delicate dance, but one that ultimately is a conversation that has to be had in order to successfully transition the farm.

Bethany Cross, an attorney with Rinke Noonan, specializes in writing farm succession plans and farm estate plans. PHOTO SUBMITTED

Cross often begins these succession conversations with the end in mind. She helps clients look at their goals for the farm. She encourages farmers to begin planning at least 10 years ahead of when they want to retire. “A lot of farmers are dirt rich and cash poor, we have to make sure dirt rich and cash poor can sustain a retirement,” she said. The plans she writes often include a gradual selling of some of the farm land to the next generation. Then, those dollars from the gradual sale of farm operation can be put away for retirement. It’s often a balance and a negotiation, as not many incoming farmers are able to pay cash outright for the land and outgoing farmers need to be able to rely on some kind of cash flow. That flow has to be large enough to sustain a retirement, but not too large that the next generation can’t afford to keep farming. Cross often works with a farmer’s financial planner and accountant as she designs the plans. For those without a team of professionals in place to aid them with this planning, she works to build a team with the family. Together, the team can discuss the income train for the farm and what it can support; the team can strategize together on behalf of the farmer. They look at assets including farm assets, non-farm assets, how to distribute or equalize assets between farm children and non-farm children. They look at common land or equipment owned by a farmer and

their siblings instead of the next generation and discuss what the plan should look like if they die or as they pass their portion of the farm along. When it comes to estate planning, the team can discuss family dynamics and how to distribute assets in a way that makes sense. “It can be overwhelming but also eye-opening for farmers and their families,” Cross said. Sometimes, the recommendation comes down to farm kids getting the farm and off-thefarm kids getting the proceeds of a life insurance policy. “In this case, equal and fair are not the same thing,” Cross said. The planners take into account the sweat equity of the kids who’ve remained on the farm. Having the plan on paper, she said, outlines exactly what will happen when a family member dies.It replaces the family expectation that a brother or other family member would just automatically care for the farmer’s surviving spouse; it no longer comes as a surprise, it’s written out, Cross said. The biggest problems come when there’s no plan and not enough dollars to go around. “I think very often a lot of farmers don’t have a succession plan because farmers are very trusting people,” she said. “The majority of the farm community thinks things will just work themselves out. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.” Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the farm is a vital part of planning. Farmers need to outline how the farm operates and how the income ebbs and flows. “It’s all important when advising a client on the right succession plan for them,” she said. Once the succession plan and estate plan are created and made official with signatures, a copy remains in the attorney’s office for ease of transition later. The succession plan and the estate plan are both important and Cross said, the plans go together; one isn’t created without the other. Cross recommends farmers pull out their plans annually to ensure they’re still representative of their desires. In addition, Cross said a will or a trust may accompany the documents. The will provides instructions for probate while a trust owns the land so it doesn’t have to go through probate and allows for some additional tax planning. Having a team that includes an attorney, a financial planner and an accountant is key to a successful transition to the next generation.

A plan to transfer a farm to the next generation of farmers is often a balance and a negotiation, as not many incoming farmers are able to pay cash outright for the land and outgoing farmers need to be able to rely on some kind of cash flow. PHOTO METRO CREATIVE GRAPHICS

8 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021


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10 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021



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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 11

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Jim Zwaschka South Central College

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12 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021



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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 13

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14 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

Meeting farmers where they're at McConkey provides free services to deal with anxiety, depression, stress BY SARAH COLBURN Staff Writer

Monica McConkey, rural mental health specialist contracted with the Minnesota State Farm Business Management Program, speaks at a crop consultant conference in San Diego. PHOTO SUBMITTED

She spends much of her time talking about often very aware of the way we feel and the actions relationships by focusing on communication and that come out of those feelings, but it takes some having the partners working together. Familial work to back up and see what’s causing those stress on farms can also come in other forms, she feelings, how to change and reframe that thinking.” Many times, she said, just talking to someone said, as farmers work with farming partners who are provides immediate relief for the farmer. For some, sometimes siblings, an uncle or a child. “There are stressors there around expectations simply talking on the phone once is enough and others, she works with weekly, sometimes for many and perceptions,” she said. Studies show that depression and anxiety in months. At any given time, McConkey works with a farmer not only impact mental health, they can as many as 50 farmers a month between phone have a direct impact on the production of the farm. calls, Zoom sessions and on-site visits. As the discussions become more specific, she Farmers who are struggling, McConkey said, may have dairy cows producing less because they has farmers discuss their future goals and plans can sense the emotional state of the farmer. Once for the farm. Together, they begin to look at what’s someone else steps in to work with the animals, or feasible and where they need to take a step back. “Just because you can do everything on the the farmer is in a better head space, they may see farm doesn’t mean you should,” she said. milk production increase. Solutions often don’t require new hires but Depression and anxiety can be manifested in a number of ways for farmers. Some have instead, perhaps a focus on a reshuffling of duties physical ailments including chest tightness, or improving communication and efficiencies. For some people, difficulty breathing, things can turn around headaches and quickly and for others, she stomachaches. Reach out said, it’s about breaking There may also To schedule an appointment down years and years of be a change in anxiety and depression with Monica McConkey, the way a person and it involves learning communicates and or to learn more, call or text her at how to handle emotions. their interactions (218) 280-7785. “Once you get it and may be more More information can also be found work on it, it’s so freeing to intense, tensions on her website at see the positive results,” may flair or there www.eyesonthehorizon.org. McConkey said. “The may be an increase • main thing is to meet in alcohol or drug McConkey’s services are offered free people where they’re at; use. of charge and it’s gotta be something These spikes no insurance is necessary. they’re ready to try.” in anxiety and McConkey not only depression can works with farm families come at any time. in the heat of things, she Though there is a perception that farmer stress most often happens also helps farm families who’ve experienced loss. during a down ag economy, the financial stress, She runs a monthly farm suicide loss support group dealing with pricing, weather and farm health open to all farmers who’ve lost a family member or weighs on farmers year-round, even in good loved one to suicide. She does grief work through that group and also meets with members of the economies. When she first begins talking with farmers, she group individually. For McConkey, who grew up on a farm that said the conversations focus on the farm. “It’s like talking to another farmer down the grew wheat, barley, sunflowers, corn, soybeans and occasionally beef and hogs, depending on the road,” she said. Fairly quickly, she said, the stressors of the farm market, the work is ingrained. “It was like coming home again when I started come to the surface. “She encourages people to explain what’s to do this work,” McConkey said.“There’s that innate going on and how it’s impacting them. Then they understanding of the drive to farm the land and discuss what solutions they may be able to put into raise the livestock. I get that and I feel that. When I place to alleviate some of the symptoms the person sit down with farmers, I just truly understand what is having until they can work down to the root issue. they’re going through and the stress and the strain, “A lot of what we work on is the way we think,” yet the love for the work.” she said. “Our thinking drives how we feel. We’re Monica McConkey is available to visit with farmers in the comfort of their own home. She works as a rural mental health specialist contracted with the Minnesota State Farm Business Management Program and can often be found visiting over the kitchen table with farmers who are dealing with depression, anxiety and overwhelming stress. COURTESY OF TRUE EXPRESSIONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo submitted

Most days, Monica McConkey can be found visiting with farmers around their kitchen table but sometimes, in the milkhouse next to the bulk tank. She’s a rural mental health specialist contracted with the Minnesota State Farm Business Management Program and works one-on-one with farmers to provide them a safe place to talk about farm stress, farm management and their fears. “When people are struggling internally and thinking, ‘Is it bad enough to get help or should I just work through it?,’ when you’re weighing that out in your mind, it’s an indicator that it’s enough of an impact you should seek help,” she said. Farmer mental health has emerged as a hot topic in Minnesota the last five years as suicides have risen dramatically, and the state has searched for ways to support people involved in agriculture. “A lot of farmers feel like they’re the only ones struggling with anxiety, depression and overwhelm,” McConkey said. Through the state, McConkey provides her services free of charge and there’s no billing of insurance, just free help in a location that’s most convenient and comfortable for the farmer. “It takes a lot of courage to get help,” she said. “(We’ve) tried to remove the barriers.” McConkey covers all of Central and Northern Minnesota and said 70% of her time is spent in person with farmers, while roughly 30% choose to meet with her virtually. She works not only with farmers, but with their spouses and with farm youth. A farm kid herself, McConkey is comfortable talking shop with farm families and their children. “I’ve been very in tune to the impact of farm stress on kids,” she said. While many initiatives focus solely on farmers and occasionally on spouses, few offer help for kids. McConkey said all the members of a farm family have different farm stressors; they’re all equally important and should be addressed. “A lot of stress in the marriage comes from the farm,” she said. “The farm is that third … partner in your marriage, that gets priority because of the nature of living where you work, working together and the financial stress and uncertainty.”

16 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 17 Gilman Co-op Creamery team member Kendel Pflipsen refills a propane cylinder for one of their customers. Low propane prices entice customers to come from many miles to the co-op creamery. PHOTOS SUBMITTED


Not only does the Gilman Co-op Creamery offer everything from groceries and hardware supplies to farm gates and Traeger grills, the local business supports and rallies for the community they serves. “We are that place in a small, little town that’s got everything and if we don’t have it, we can get it,” said Rich Wolter, purchasing and sales supervisor for the co-op creamery. “During COVID, people have discovered they don’t always need to go to a big store in another town, they can come in and get a few things, find something for dinner and be on their way.” The co-op creamery has been serving the region since 1923 and has expanded their goods and services through the decades. Inside, the store offers grocery basics including sugar, flour and cereal, but they also have things like chicken wings, pizza and cheese curds. They carry summer sausages, bratwurst, snack sticks and jerky from the Foley Meat Locker and provide not only pantry staples, but fun foods for entertaining or celebrating. The housewares department is also fully stocked and a place where customers can find cleaning supplies as well as kitchen wares like coffee pots and the everpopular air fryers. They’ve recently expanded their footwear and clothing lines to meet the needs of more shoppers. And, those looking for some fun outdoor activities can find their sporting goods equipment at the co-op creamery as well. Outside, the store offers livestock equipment, gates,

stock tanks, freestanding panels, fencing materials and posts and bulk feed tanks. It’s one of the largest suppliers of Virnig Manufacturing skid steer attachments in the state. The co-op creamery mixes their own feeds and has four delivery trucks out five days a week delivering to farmers as far west as Paynesville and as far north as Gilman Co-op Creamery General Manager Adam Mora. They deal in Purina and Archer-Daniels-Midland. Bonovsky and team member Karl Malikowski assist Additionally, they often market hay and straw to farmers. a customer in finding a tool. The co-op creamery also offers a whole host of other services to the community. They recently added The Gilman Co-op tire repair and sales for the public and they also supply Creamery offers a little propane, offering it at a price that attracts customers bit of everything from from long distances, Wolter said. groceries to farm supplies As a creamery, the business buys milk from local and all the in-between. farmers, processes it and sell it through First District Association in Litchfield. The employees at the co-op creamery have lots One of four feed of institutional farm knowledge and are able to guide delivery trucks is customers who have questions. filled at Gilman “I love working with farmers, helping them be Co-op Creamery. successful, helping them put food on the table,” Wolter The co-op said. creamery delivers Additionally, the co-op creamery cares about what to farmers as happens in the local community, supporting everything far west as from 4-H programs to youth softball, and participating Paynesville and in fundraisers for people in the community who are sick. as far north as “We care about our farmers,”Wolter said.“We actually Mora. care about what happens in our local community.”

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18 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

Winter Beauty is all around us! PHOTOS BY MARK KLAPHAKE

A group of deer head out to eat near a stand of corn Feb. 9 west of Sauk Centre.

F Frosted d trees provide id a picturesque i background b k d for f the h Jersey J cows Feb. F b 4 at Luke and Rosanna Sauder’s 60-cow dairy near Elrosa.

Highland cattle eat on a round bale of grass Feb. 8 on a farm between Sauk Centre and Elrosa.

Katie Hembree spends time with a horse at feeding time Feb. 11 at Rosie’s Gypsy Ranch near St. Joseph.

Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 19

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20 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

Land prices hold through 2020, poised to increase

Good prime farm land is in short supply on the open market and predicted to hold steady to increase over the next year. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM ROOK PHOTOGRAPHY www.jim-rook.com BY DIANE LEUKAM Staff Writer

The price of farmland is always of interest and concern within the agricultural community, and we asked three experts to weigh in on the topic. Jesse Hughes is on the Board of Directors for the Rural Land Institute of Minnesota and the U.S., and a broker with Hughes Real Estate based in Benson; Ashley Huhn is a member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and an auctioneer who sells agricultural land with Steffes Group, Inc. of Litchfield; and Rachel Daberkow is a Certified General Licensed Appraiser specializing in farm land appraisals with Compeer Financial with offices in Waite Park and Glencoe in Central Minnesota. When speaking with the three, all agreed on one basic theme: Agricultural land prices are likely to be strong in 2021, driven by strong commodity prices and limited opportunities to purchase land. “Generally speaking, we are seeing farm land values going up after what has been a down market for the last three or four years,” Hughes said. “If commodity prices continue as they are now, we may see a significant increase.”

On Jan. 26, March delivery corn was averaging at about $4.65 and March soybeans at $12.70 in several local elevators in Central Minnesota. Producers have also been strong buyers in ag land, with much of it sold to family members or from landlord to tenant. Much of the land is not hitting the open market, if it is sold at all. “Many land owners are hanging onto it right now,” Hughes said.“Good prime farmland is in short supply on the open market and predicted to hold steady to increase over the next year.”

“The biggest thing is that when an appraiser values farm land, they are looking at all the property’s specific characteristics and comparing them to the sales from the area. Soil type and drainage are important, but also what influences value is location. Farmers are mostly in tune with a lot of this; this is their business.” Rachel Daberkow


Over the years, farm land prices have steadily increased in value since the 1940s and 50s, with the exception of the 1980s when it went through a recession, and 2017 through 2019 when the price plateaued. In Central Minnesota alone, the price of farm land varies greatly by location, and even from field to field. Sometimes, farmers are surprised (good or bad) with the appraised value of their property. They look at their county assessed (tax) values as a guide, which are broad valuations for all properties within a township. Daberkow explained some of the nuances of land appraisals. Appraisals begin with the actual land sales that have happened in the area, and from there, they go into very detailed specifics of the parcels being appraised and how the sales compare. “Everywhere is different,” Daberkow said. “It is very much dependent on the location, climate and soil types – location even within a county due to variations of rainfall, more prevalent hail pattern, or more sandy soils… there are specifics for each field.”


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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 21

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Whether Daberkow is appraising thousands of acres across state lines, or 80 acres on one farm, the steps are the same. Each field is looked at for specifics such as irrigation or dry cropland, soil makeup, size and shape of tillable land, drainage, topography, erosion or farming limitations, and uses of non-tillable land. “I value each piece individually because each piece has unique characteristics,” Daberkow said. “How sand, silt and clay interact helps me understand why certain farms can raise higher yields.” Daberkow explained the benefits of utilizing manure application (organic matter) for the soil can affect value as well. “I have witnessed several sales where the adjacent livestock farmers are the ones having the highest bid as they see this as a better investment over another piece of land a few miles away,” she said. “Transportation of livestock manure can be cost prohibitive after just a few miles.” As an appraiser, knowing what influences value in the area is critical. “The biggest thing is that when an appraiser values farm land, they are looking at all the property’s specific characteristics and comparing them to the sales from the area,” she said. “Soil type and drainage are important, but also what influences value is location. Farmers are mostly in tune with a lot of this; this is their business.” Daberkow grew up on a crop farm, and much of what she learned during those years has helped her to understand farmers, farming and the value of land. At the time, she had no idea how much it would help her in her career as a farm real estate appraiser. As a farmer herself, she enjoys working with farmers since she understands the trials and tribulations they are experiencing. She knows that when farm land becomes available for public sale, it is a big deal. “It is a long-term investment,” Daberkow said. Huhn agreed. “The field across the road from a farmer might come up for sale only once in their lifetime; it might be worth more to them than anyone else is willing to pay,” he said. “I can count on one hand the number of properties I have seen sell more than once in my tenure.” On Feb. 8, Huhn said land owners are ready and waiting. “Our land sales will be starting up next week, and the level of interest if unbelievable,” he said. “For the first time in my career, people are so hungry to buy land, they are willing to look at buying out of their area so that some day when a piece comes along for sale near them, they will buy that and 1031 exchange the land. The inventory is so low and the interest rate is so low right now, if you have cash it’s a good time to buy.” Without a crystal ball, no one is absolutely sure what 2021 will bring, but one thing is sure: Every parcel of agricultural land that goes up for sale will spark the interest of local farmers and investors. According to Huhn, the ball started rolling last fall. “Once we got to the middle of October, prices started to gain momentum,” he said. “Equipment and real estate went up significantly.” Hughes also feels land prices will remain strong in 2021. “We are seeing farm land values going up after what has been a down market for the last three or four years,” he said. “Good prime farm land is in short supply on the open market and with the higher commodity prices we are seeing now after first of year, land is predicted to hold steady to increase over the next year.”

By Ashley Huhn For many involved in production agriculture, 2020 began with the same challenges faced in 2019. A near impossible fall harvest spilled over into the new year along with an escalating trade war resulting in lower than desirable commodity prices. This situation made for less than stellar sentiment in production agriculture early in the year and was compounded by a global pandemic and an election year. Professionals involved in the sale, management, and valuation of farm real estate were left wondering how land values and rents would weather the storm. As we set the stage for over 100 springtime farmland and equipment auction sales, we were certainly no different. As we predicted in our 2020 spring auction catalog, farmland prices remained solid throughout the year due to lack of supply. What we did not foresee or anticipate was the robust demand and strength we continue to see. Farmland values remained incredibly resilient in the tumultuous months, January – July, turning surprisingly strong during the second half of the year, with some large gains in certain areas of Minnesota and the greater Midwest. As the global pandemic loomed and with the stock market at an all-ime high, we saw investors actively seeking safe alternatives throughout the year. Some found their safe harbor in farmland, while producer interest in land purchases seemed to be below average early in the year. Demand, interest, and bidder registrations skyrocketed on our farmland auctions starting in August. The trend continued through the year with many more registered bidders than anticipated. Prices attained at auction sales reflected this uptick in demand, with some tracts of farmland fetching near, at, or even above record prices in some cases. Commodity prices, interest rates, and local yields are the three leading indicators we believe most closely influence farmland and other farm assets. We saw an unpredicted fourth factor emerge late in the year. Many producers and agribusinesses took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program in addition to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). USDA now reports government payments will account for 35% and in some cases 40% of net cash farm income in 2020. This fourth factor, paired with an unexpected rally in commodity prices, record low interest rates, and average to above-average yields throughout the state, propelled us into a strong fall market, which by all indications, should continue into 2021. The auction method of marketing is a cash today environment. It is the ultimate expression of the free enterprise system in which auctioneers are often the first to see the ups and downs. The market cycles that we see today are written about by the press 3-6 months from now. It does appear that we are exiting a period of down to flat farmland values and entering a new trend with higher demand and prices. Perhaps once this positivity is recognized, we will see more farms hit the market in 2021. Only time will tell! This article was written by Mr. Huhn for the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA). Reprinted with permission.

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22 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 25

Doing it the right way - Harms Manufacturing committed to quality -


“Everyone’s equipment keeps getting bigger, so we need to accommodate to that, An iconic former too,” Harms said. “We’re open blacksmith shop sits along to making more sizes, too, if the west side of Highway 71 there’s a demand.” about a mile south of Bertha. Harms has recently taken Tim Harms, the current owner over the company from his and manager, is proud to be father, Wally Harms, who was part of a multi-generational the company’s leader since legacy where employees are 1963 when he took over from team members and customer his father. satisfaction is their priority. Before the manufacturing Known for their land side of the business took off, rollers, Harms Manufacturing the shop was a blacksmith Inc. is spread throughout shop started by Harms’ the region with distributors grandfather in 1929. Today, in North Dakota, Wisconsin, they still work on custom Iowa, South Dakota and projects and repairs if needed. Minnesota. “We can do pretty much Harms has delivered anything,” Harms said. “Or, at rollers as far east as Virginia, least try. We don’t do engines, as far west as Oregon, and has but if you can think of delivered a few in Florida. something you want built, we “Our customers are loyal,” Tim Harms, owner and manager of Harms Manufacturing Inc., stands with a land roller the company sells can come up with something.” Harms said. “If they have any throughout the upper Midwest. Harms Manufacturing Inc. strives to provide quality equipment to all their The business has dabbled of our products, they usually customers. PHOTO SUBMITTED in all sorts of crafting to create want more.” what is requested by the Land rollers have been at client. They have built deer dealerships for more than 20 years, but wagons are just starting to be distributed. stands for hunters, and once, a traveling keyboard wagon for the Staples band “Some people don’t even know about our wagons, but love our land rollers, so teacher. I’m trying to seize that opportunity and offer more to our loyal customers,” Harms We’re also a bit of a repair shop,” Harms said. “I like to do the job right so our said. customers can get back to work. We’ll do it more than good enough so everyone’s Harms Manufacturing started in 1946 when Tim’s grandfather made the first happy.” wagon out of old car parts. Harms also focuses on his employees’ satisfaction, stating that when there is a Their wagons are some of the best on the market, said Harms, but they haven’t good environment to work, everyone enjoys it more. been as widely marketed as the land rollers until recently. “I believe in a team concept,” Harms said. “We’re all on the same team. We all “Our wagons are the best trailing wagons out there,” Harms said. “It’s because want to make money, and we want to work in a good place and be happy.” we do everything right on our end. When I sell someone a wagon, I hope I don’t Harms is proud of the work produced in his shop, and is happy to help farmers have to see them again (for repairs or other issues).” continue their work that is essential to everyone. Lately, they have been working on a 24-ton wagon, to meet the demands of their customers.

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26 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021


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Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021 • 31

Farm incidents can be prevented Paap shares tips for preparedness, response BY SARAH COLBURN Staff Writer

Kevin Paap has spent decades teaching classes on how to respond to farm emergencies. As he president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, and a retired firefighter of nearly three decades, a current EMT, and a current EMS instructor, Paap has seen a lot and responded to a lot. “One of the biggest no no’s in the safety and health world is to use the word accident,” Paap said. “We don’t have accidents. A lot of incidents can be prevented.” When an incident does happen on the farm, he said, it can often be difficult to categorize. If a person runs a four-wheeler into a tree it’s considered a crash, he said, but when it happens to be a tree that sits on farm land it’s classified as a farm incident. Though incidents can happen anywhere, he said, special precautions can be taken on the farm in order to prevent farm emergencies. He has some advice on how to avoid farm emergencies and how to respond to incidents if they happen. He categorizes them this way: Work Together: Not only do farmers get more done when they work with a partner, Paap said, it can prevent injuries. “Make sure people know where you are,” he said. “Especially in confined spaces, grain bins or manure pits, you’ve got to have that partner in case something unexpected happens.” That person, he said, is integral to shutting off the power if a rescue is appropriate, or calling for help. Poor-quality grain, Paap said, is one of the biggest causes of emergency situations on the farm. “It’s hard to take care of poor-quality grain,” he said. The more farmers can work together with a partner, the easier it is to address a malfunctioning p pi iece off equipment, equ q ipment, t, d eall wit ith h sil ilos,, g raiin b ins,, piece deal with silos, grain bins, manu ma nu ure p i s an it and d an nim imal alss. manure pits animals.

“At least recognize the risk so somebody else knows what you’re doing and where you’re doing it and can check in,” he said. The way he scares this idea into people when he’s presenting is to show them a picture of a situation gone awry. Paap understands confined space entry is dangerous and complicated. “In agriculture and farming, sometimes we do things we probably shouldn’t,” he said. He has seen an improvement in recent years as farmers make it more of a habit to partner up. Use Technology: Guards and warning stickers not only protect the farmer, they protect all the people on the farm who don’t know the ins and out of each piece of machinery. The more people on the farm, the more integral it is to make sure all the guards, safety protections and sensing technology are in place and functional. “You and your dad know where the issues might be,” Paap said. “Somebody who didn’t grow up on a farm won’t be aware of those hazards. We do safety things for our children and grandchildren more than ourselves.” In addition, today’s machines have technology that helps improve safety. Sensors detect when a rider steps off the equipment and stop the blades from spinning and some machines offer roll bars that reduce incidents when used properly in conjunction with a seatbelt. “We’re not to zero, but we’re injuring and killing less people on the farms due to the increased use of technology and that’s a good thing,” Paap said. Just simply carrying a cell phone around allows a farmer to call for help, he said. Be Prepared: In Paap’s machine shed, he has a 13-footlong shoelace hanging on the wall. It’s a constant reminder of how fast a power takeoff unravels fabric in a mere second.

INCIDENTS | continued on page 32

Kevin Paap (from left), along with his wife, Julie, and son, Andy, are pictured here on their farm in Blue Earth County. Kevin promotes safety on the farm and is the president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, a retired firefighter of nearly three decades, and a current EMT and EMS instructor. ALL PHOTOS SUMBITTED

Soybeans are rolled on Kevin Paap’s farm in Blue Earth County. Today’s equipment has safety features, like blades that shut down automatically when the driver leaves the seat.

Kevin Paap gets his spring planting done with the help of technology. Many technology improvements can also help prevent emergencies on the farm. The second screen inside Paap’s tractor gives him a rear view of the planter, a view he can’t see from the seat.

32 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

INCIDENTS | continued from page 31 In addition to guards and protective equipment, he encourages all farmers to keep fire extinguishers on hand as well as first aid kits, multiples of them spread throughout different buildings. Keeping equipment clean of dust and build-up also goes a long way in preventing incidents. He also recommends taking a first aid class so people on the farm know the first steps to responding in an emergency. Posting emergency phone numbers including 911 is also important because everyone may not be thinking clearly in an emergency situation. He also touts regular mechanical checks to ensure lights are working properly and that reflectors are on equipment. “All this new equipment is engineered so much safer than it was 20 to 30 years ago,” he said. Age Consideration: Kids who grow up on a farm, Paap said, are a challenge because while they may be physically able to do the work, they’re mentally unprepared if something goes wrong. “We’ve done a lot of work on this as an industry over the years,” Paap said. It’s important to consider age-appropriate tasks for kids. A 10-year-old, he said, can definitely

jump in a four-wheel-drive tractor and drive it through town pulling something, but they don’t have the cognitive skills, the thinking skills, to react if something goes wrong or they blow a tire. “That’s where you get into trouble,” Paap said. “We need the help, they want to help, they just may not be ready. Mentally they can’t (come up with a plan on the spot) and that’s where we’ve seen problems and childhood injuries and fatalities on the farm.” The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation has worked with the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety on guidelines through the years. On its website, there’s information on how supervisors can keep young children safe as well as detailed guidelines for age-appropriate tasks. • More information can be found at: https://www.marshfieldresearch.org/nccrahs • Guidelines for specific age-appropriate tasks: https://cultivatesafety.org/work/ • Farm safety modules from the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation: https://www.fb.org/programs/safety-health/ thinkfast/ • Farm programs and help: https://www.fb.org/programs/safety-health/

Kevin Paap combines and his son, Andy Paap, drives the tractor as the two work through fall harvest.

Kevin Paap has spent decades teaching classes on how to respond to farm emergencies and uses visuals such as this graphic from the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, which shows the hazards of grain bin entry.

Sleep and Eat: Getting proper rest and nourishment are part of preventing farm emergencies. “We know there’s a lot of stress in agriculture – financially, weather, markets out of our control,” Paap said.“When we push it and don’t get enough sleep and we’re not eating right, we sometimes skip steps, we’re not as ready and fresh.” The odds of something going wrong increase with lack of sleep and proper nourishment, he said. “In the heat of battle, it doesn’t always happen,” Paap said. “It’s the fall and we’ve got weather, snow coming in, the rain is coming in and you want to get that field baled. We need to recognize that some things are beyond our control and worry instead about what we can control.”


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36 • Central MN Farm Edition | February 19-23, 2021

- Building a Team Finding, keeping good employees a challenge

Tracey Erickson is the extension dairy field specialist at South Dakota State University and works with farmers to become better employee managers. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY DIANE LEUKAM Staff Writer

Farming is challenging in and of itself, but one of the most difficult challenges many farmers face today is finding and retaining good employees. Tracey Erickson is the extension dairy field specialist at South Dakota State University and since 2011, has worked with dairy producers in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. “We apply research to life,” she said.“We focus on dairy production and its overall management, working together with producers, field reps, allied partners and other entities across the board.” They do not help farmers to find employees, but rather work to help farmers be better employee managers. This in turn enables producers to provide their employees with information to develop skill sets leading to success and profitability on the farm. Many times, Erickson has assisted producers with on-farm employee training. Much of her work in the past year has changed from field days and workshops to virtual, but she always enjoys a chance to get out on the farm. She spoke from her office in Watertown, South Dakota, on Jan. 17, about farm employment challenges – and opportunities. If she could offer one piece of advice, it would be simple and very direct. “Hire for attitude, train for aptitude,” she said. “If they are willing, you can train them, otherwise it is an uphill battle to begin with.” Sometimes, the key is for farmers to know themselves, and Erickson says good managers recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. Most farmers know exactly how to farm, but as they grow, they need to hone the skill set of managing people, and giving them what they

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need to succeed in their work. challenges. We spoke to a hog producer who “We all know places that are really good to preferred to remain unidentified. The producer work,” Erickson said.“Typically, it is how they train has extensive experience in the industry, and and progress their employees for the betterment sources most employees through word of mouth of their future. That business will do better. Most and visa programs. employees leave not because of money; they “We are always training and it’s getting leave because of how it makes them feel, and more difficult with fewer people who have an ag whether or not they are happy, satisfied, can background, and they want more set hours,” he build a career and feel valued.” said. When it comes to training, communication Obtaining visas for employees involves high is key, along with physically demonstrating, costs and extensive documentation with no practicing and observing how tasks must guarantees to the employer. be done. Then, there is feedback in praise or A TN Visa generally costs approximately continued training. $5000 and is good for three years. “It’s all part of coaching; it takes time,” If an employee wishes to become a permanent Erickson said. “Even once people get the gist U.S. citizen, often they will go through years of of it, you may have to go back through a circle permits and certifications, with up to $20,000 of training. Why are you doing what you are invested in one employee who may or may not doing? If people understand the why behind it, it stay with the farm. helps get things done correctly more often. The To start the citizenship process, an ad is placed lightbulb goes on and it helps them see the big for the employee’s position. Farm staff must then picture.” interview everyone and give detailed information Building a good strong farm culture is to the government as to why others were not important, along with a team philosophy. chosen for the position. “I try to present to farm owners, managers In the case of this particular hog producer, and herdsmen help on implementation of the decision has been made to replace much of SOP (standard operating protocols) in training the labor with family members. For non-family programs within their own operations,” Erickson personnel, they hire mostly on personality said. and how they fit into the team; most have no According to Erickson, farmers can hire all experience, but are trained. Because the operation the people they want, but they as owners and BUILDING A TEAM | continued on page 37 managers must be engaged with employees and willing to communicate and train employees while working towards implementation of protocols. “It’s a fine line, but producers who are struggling with employees have to recognize and be willing to admit where their faults might lie or they are going to continue to struggle,” she said. “[They need to ask themselves], ‘do I have someone out there to help me make my business the best it can be, and am I willing to be a better manager?’” Farm managers and owners have unique challenges based on their typical field of expertise. In dairy, for example, cows must be milked two or three times a day, 365 days a year. For many dairy producers, getting away for any period of time can be a daunting hurdle to overcome, although good employees can make all the difference. Hog producers An employee tends to baby pigs in a farrowing barn in Central Minnesota. face their own sets of PHOTO SUBMITTED

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BUILDING A TEAM | continued from page 36 is phasing out of visa programs, they are hoping local ag programs in the schools, along with FFA members, will be able to fill the gap. Often, people are unaware of the opportunities that are available to them in agriculture. This is true within families as well, and a good attitude is all important. “If you are not positive about the industry, you can push kids off the farm,” he said. “It’s a way of life, and it must be presented to them as an opportunity and not that they are just labor.” Both this hog producer and Erickson agree, good employees are essential. “Employees make or break you,” Erickson said. “Good ones can bring you up over the top as you work together to make a team.”

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2021 Central Minnesota Farm Edition  

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2021 Central Minnesota Farm Edition