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D2 Thursday, March 8, 2018 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Carolyn Lange / Tribune

Joe Schimerowski travels about 65,000 miles a year for his job as a direct sales representative for Rob-See-Co in west-central Minnesota.

Talking seeds and building relationships Seed sales involves coffee, talking, product knowledge and helping farmers improve their bottom line By Carolyn Lange EW LONDON – After spending many winter months sitting behind the wheel of his truck driving to west-central Minnesota farms to discuss the merits of different corn, soybeans and alfalfa seeds he sells for Rob-See-Co., Joe Schimerowski is eager to start tossing hefty bags of seeds into the box of his pickup for spring deliveries. “After all the sales donut stops, it’s time to throw seed bags to get a workout,” Schimerowski said. “It’s a good workout in the spring, which we’re due after a long, cold winter.” As a district sales representative in west central Minnesota, Schimerowski drives about 1,000 miles each week in a seasonal routine that puts him in face-to-face contact with customers looking for the best seed for their soil at a price that will maximize profits.


The 2012 New London-Spicer graduate has been sellings seeds for the family-owned, Nebraska-based independent regional seed company since 2015, following his college internship there. Considering Rob-See-Co was launched in the fall of 2013, Schimerowski could be considered a company veteran for the growing company. “We’re the fastest-growing independent seed company in the U.S,” he said. Rob Robinson, CEO and owner of Rob-See-Co, has a long family history in seed production and sales. The original J.C. Robinson Seed Company had been a partner in the Golden Harvest seed brand before it was purchased by Syngenta in 2004. He re-launched the company to


West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, March 8, 2018 D3

Data collected at harvest time at a Rob-See-Co seed plot provides information about yields on different soil types.

Submitted photo


sell the family brand of RobSee-Co seeds in 2013 and has seen positive growth, with the help of sales reps like Schimerowski. Armed with a degree in agronomy and precision agriculture from South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., a hearty smile and natural gift for conversation, Schimerowski said he enjoys building relationships with producers and “bringing the right product to each farm.” Developing a relationship built on knowledge of products and trust with producers is one of the best parts of his job, along with helping improve a “farmer’s bottom line and yield,” he said. In a phone interview, Robinson said 20 years ago there were 300 seed companies, but because of consolidation there now about 80. The global “consolidation of germplasm” and trait developments in seeds has

Matching the right hybrid to the right acres is just a matter of being out, seeing the product in multiple locations, multiple times. – ROB ROBINSON, CEO and owner of Rob-See-Co been “even more dramatic” with about five or six major players. That consolidation has created a new, intense competition among seed companies. Robinson said customers who want a relationship and personal buying experience – along with a good price and good product – get lost in the shuffle of large companies. New companies like his, he said, fill that void. “They value the relationship with their seed sellers,” Robinson said. Schimerowski, who lives in Milroy, works with farmers in Lyon, Lincoln, Redwood, Renville, Kandiyohi, Swift, Chippewa, Yellow Medicine

and Lac qui Parle counties. He also recruits people – usually crop farmers who are “local and well known in their community” – to become seed dealers for Rob-See-Co. The life of a seed sales representative follows a predictable calendar. Schimerowski said 70- to 80-hour weeks are typical in the fall and spring, with “an occasional 30-hour week in the summer with some time to go fishing.”

RELATIONSHIPS: Page D4 Like most seed sales representatives, Joe Schimerowski carries a good supply of product swag, like hats and can koozies, to give to customers.

Carolyn Lange / Tribune

D4 Thursday, March 8, 2018 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

From Page D3

Selling seeds for the next spring planting season begins in the fall, usually when harvest is underway. Schimerowski said he often rides a few rounds in the combine buddy seat with producers where they can see the results of the harvest and discuss how different seed hybrids and Agrisure traits worked on the different soil conditions of the farm. “Matching the right hybrid to the right acres is just a matter of being out, seeing the product in multiple locations, multiple times,” he said. “We had really good product performance and with the grain

markets where they’re at, farmers are looking to save money,” he said. “And we’re a lower-priced option that performs just as well.” Some farmers are ready to place their seed orders for the following year while riding in the combine. Other farmers, especially those that use GPS mapping data that pinpoints yields to seed and soil matches, want to wait until they can analyze the numbers, Schimerowski said. Waiting can cost money, however. Like most seed companies, Rob-SeeCo offers discounts for placing orders between October and March, with discounts of 11 percent in October that gradually decrease to 3 percent in March. By February – after putting on thousands of miles to visit with farmers

– Schimerowski said most of his clients have placed their seed orders to take advantage of the discounts. Seed delivery will begin soon. “We’ll be getting in the pickup with the flatbed and we go out delivering corn,” he said. That will take up a lot of March and beginning of April.” There are always exceptions. Following a June hailstorm in Lincoln County, Schimerowski delivered 77-day seed corn to farmers there in July. Schimerowski also works with farmers to provide test plots. Farmers provide several acres of land and the equipment to plant and harvest different hybrid seeds that are provided by the company. The farmer keeps the harvested seed, with the company reaping the data about how different varieties performed on that particular soil type and weather growing conditions. While talking to farmers about seed varieties, Schimerowski gets to hear about their take on future markets. He said there’s still a “large sense of anxiety” about input costs and low commodity prices. Farmers who have a diversified farming operation or a side-job, he said, are expressing more optimism for the coming year.

Stock photo


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Willmar Location: 320-235-9420 Carolyn Lange / Tribune

As a direct sales representative for Rob-See-Co, Joe Schimerowski spends time in farmers’ kitchens and shops helping producers match different soil types on their farms with the best variety of seeds.

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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, March 8, 2018 D5

Bloomberg photo by Andrey Rudakov.

A combine harvester operates as night falls during the summer wheat harvest on a farm in Novoalexandrovsk, Russia, on July 16, 2017.

Russia is exporting more wheat than any country in 25 years By Anatoly Medetsky Bloomberg It’s been a long time since any country shipped out as much wheat as Russia. As estimates for the Russian harvest keep growing, so does the outlook for exports. The world’s top exporter is now expected to sell 36.6 million metric tons overseas, according to consultants SovEcon and the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies, or IKAR. The U.S. was the last nation to ship out more, a quarter century ago. Helped by fertile soil and more farm investment, Russian wheat output has boomed in recent years and allowed the country to grab market share from major exporters like the U.S. and Canada. Russia’s ever-growing harvests have also added to a global glut of the grain that pushed benchmark futures in Chicago down 50 percent since mid2012. Russia’s most recent harvest turned out bigger than expected as favorable spring and summer weather boosted yields. The record crop and relatively weak ruble has kept Russian grain competitive, while ports have coped with bigger supplies as mild winter conditions kept shipping lanes open later than usual. New markets for the country’s grain “allows Russia to maintain a record pace of wheat exports,” SovEcon said on its website. One example is Venezuela, where Russia has been sending cargoes every month since starting shipments to the country in August, it said.

SovEcon and IKAR’s estimate for Russian shipments are bigger than the forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which pegs this season’s amount at 36 million tons. That would

still be the most since America exported 36.8 million tons in the 1992-93 season, U.S. government data show. However, the amount is still way below the 48.2 million tons that U.S.

exports peaked at in the early 1980s. American shipments remained high for much of that decade, partly as the former Soviet Union relied on overseas purchases.

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D6 Thursday, March 8, 2018 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Research shows consumers trust farmers ten to the consumer and ask questions to make sure we are understanding what the consumer is asking, and at the end we want to let them know that we share the same value as the consumer,” she says. Those shared values commonly revolve around providing a safe and affordable food supply for their family, which both consumers and farmers strive for. Canistota pork producer Karen Hofer doesn’t take that consumer trust for granted, and that’s why she wanted to learn how to tell her story to consumers. She says it is important to listen to the consumer and share her desire to produce safe food. “We want to take care of our animals so that we have a healthy, safe product in the grocery stores for them to buy,” she says. Baltic grain and cattle producer Jared Questad was surprised to find the science he had always relied on to talk to consumers wasn’t the best approach, so the workshop was very helpful for him. “If some of us can be the connection there to the farmer and consumer, we might be able to jump the gap and help them understand what we’re really doing with these new technologies,” he says. Moenning says many of the same food topics are still trending with consumers. “We continue to see interest and concern over things like antibiotic use, crop protection products, water quality, sus-

Michelle Rook / Special to Forum News Service

Donna Moenning with the Center for Food Integrity says a majority of consumers trust farmers when it comes to their food supply. tainability,” she says. However, she says farmers are making end roads in changing consumer perceptions and skepticism about agriculture, so at least the trend is moving in the right direction. Sheier says it takes time to change consumer misconceptions and that’s why their Hungry for Truth initiative and workshops like this are so important.

“The training is important so they can go out and tell their story and answer questions.” she says. Sheier says it is also imperative for the future of farmers to change the disconnect the public has with agriculture. “It’s really important so we can keep on farming. It’s to let farmers tell their story and for consumers to understand what we’re doing, so we have that freedom to do that,” she says.


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knowing more about farming and food production. “The most recent research from the Center for Food Integrity shows that 65 percent of consumers want more information about the food that they consume,” says Moenning. “They want to know is their food healthy? Is it safe? Can I purchase healthy affordable food?” She says that means secrecy is no longer an option for farmers. “We need to be transparent about what we’re doing. We need to answer questions, we need to listen to consumers and really provide meaningful answers to what they’re seeking,” she says. To capitalize on this research, Moenning provided training to farmers on how to build a connection with consumers in person and on social media. She says it can’t be done by answering their questions with scientific data. “Until we trust someone, then we’ll look to their information. How do you build trust? Shared values is a piece of that,” Moenning says. She says food is personal, so farmers need to connect with consumers one-on-one first. Dawn Scheier understands that. She is a grain producer from Salem, S.D., and serves as a director on the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. She has been through several training sessions on engaging with consumers and continues to learn. “We’re supposed to lis-


By Michelle Rook Special to Forum News Service Most consumers are now several generations removed from the farm, and for the last 40 years that has led to a continual erosion of trust in farmers. As a result, farmers and farm groups have been focusing their efforts on bridging that gap with the consumer. The latest research from the Center for Food Integrity has some good news for farmers in that area. Donna Moenning with CFI says a majority of consumers trust farmers when it comes to their food supply. She shared research results with farmers, as well as how to best engage with consumers, at a series of Developing Consumer Trust Workshops in February. The sessions were hosted by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council as part of their Hungry for Truth Campaign. Moenning says while CFI’s findings are favorable for farmers, that didn’t extend into the rest of the food chain. “The trust in federal government, state government, food companies is not as high as it is for farmers,” she says. At the same time, consumers hold farmers responsible for the food supply, and she says that is a good thing. “Consumers hold you ral Trib- $126 1/8 page responsible and they also trust you,” Moenning says. “That’s where farmers are at and it’s a good place to be.” CFI research also indicates consumers are interested in

West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, March 8, 2018 D7


Scheduled classes and events over the coming weeks:

strations and door prizes. Tickets are $10 in advance by March 26. Call 320693-5275. Tickets are $15 after March 26 and at the door.

Farm Workshops

Meeker Gardener’s Gala LITCHFIELD – The Meeker County Gardener’s Gala will be from 6 to 9

Douglas County

ALEXANDRIA – The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners of Douglas County will have their “Let’s Get Growing” educational day from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 7 at Discovery Middle School in Alexandria. The keynote speaker Eric Bergeson will speak on “Successful Gardening on the Northern Prairie.” There will be four breakout sessions with 28 topics to choose from. Tickets are $30 by March 28, call 320-762-3890 or $35 after March 28 and at the door.

Come Grow With Us Pixabay

p.m. Tuesday, April 3, at the Opera House in Litchfield. Hennepin County Master Gardener Theresa Rooney will speak on “The Lazy Gardener” and Jayne Roberts, a perennial specialist, will speak on

“Something New and Tried True, Too” and give an update on perennials. It is sponsored by the Meeker County Extension Master Gardeners and the Meeker County Horticulture Society. There will be vendors, demon-

Vegetable Gardening: March 21, 12:15 to 1 p.m., AgCountry Auditorium, University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, 46352 State Hwy. 329 in Morris. Steve Poppe will speak on vegetable gardening at this “Come Grow with Us” class which is free, but donations are accepted. For more information call 320-589-1711.

Tomorrow Starts Earlier For Farmers.

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Renville County Local Work Group: March 8, 10 a.m. to noon, Renville County USDA Service Center, Olivia. The Local Work Group provides a forum for partners, farmers, agri-business, conservation groups and local community members to share conservation activities and discuss natural resource problems and concerns that should be prioritized. The group assists in guiding the Natural Resource Conservation Service in targeting farm bill funds for technical and financial assistance in Renville County in the future. For more information contact the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District at 320-523-1550 on online at www. Farm Transition and Estate Planning, Create Your Farm Legacy: March 15, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Louriston Dairy Education Center, Murdock. Five-hour workshop filled with practical information and strategies to help farm families begin the process of transferring the farm business to the next generation. Research by the University of Minnesota shows most farms have not completed a transition plan. In “Farm Transition & Estate Planning: Create Your Farm Legacy,” participants gain a greater understanding of transfer strategies, tax issues related to the transfer process, and methods for treatment of heirs in the transfer process, as well as how to go about preparing to meet with a transition and estate planning team. At the workshop participant can begin completing worksheets related to the application of different transfer strategies, such as listing personal, family, and farm business goals. Estate planning is a crucial part of the transition process as well. The workshop also includes a discussion of wills and trusts, life insurance, power-of-attorney, long-term health care issues, and more. This information will help to complete the transfer plan. Sponsored by the Chippewa County Corn and Soybean Growers and the University of Minnesota Extension it is free and includes lunch. Space is limited. To register contact Mike Bosch at 320-894-0485 or email


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D8 Thursday, March 8, 2018 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

5 things in food and agriculture we can agree on


Food waste is bad and should be reduced.

A recent TV commercial promotes reducing food waste and “stars” an easy-todislike hipster doofus. But even though he’s awfully annoying (hey, I’m not calling him evil or stupid), his message is sound. Food waste is wrong. Surely we all agree on that.

Food safety is vital. There are major disagreements on what government can and should do to keep food safe. But we all agree on the importance of eating safe food.

Farm safety is vital, too.

Again, we can (and do) disagree on appropriate laws and regulations involving farm safety. But no one disagrees that farmers and farm employees should be spared from injury and death on the job.

Cruelty to animals is wrong.

Yes, I know. Americans disagree on what constitutes cruelty and what government and livestock producers should do to protect animals. But as a general principle, we all agree that causing them unnecessary pain is wrong.

Garden tomatoes are vastly better than supermarket ones.

Last fall, I received a fellowship to attend a professional conference in Pittsburgh. While there, I was among a group of journalists that toured a small urban farm specializing in homegrown tomatoes.

As we were finishing up, a perplexed young student-journalist shook her head and said, “Tomatoes are tomatoes. Why not just go to the store and buy them?” The other journalists — a diverse mix of ages, genders, skin colors and life experiences — looked at her incredulously.



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5 THINGS: Page D9

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By Jonathan Knutson Forum News Service t’s no secret that America has vast divisions: right versus left, Fox News versus MSNBC, red state versus blue state, urban versus rural, agriculturalists versus non-ag consumers, mainstream agriculturists versus alternative agriculturists. Sometimes it seems we’re split into competing camps that allow no compromise or common ground. Sometimes it seems we’re willing, even eager, to label people in competing camps as evil or stupid or both. But there are a few things in agriculture that all rational people — and, yes, the overwhelming majority of people in competing camps are rational — can agree on. Here’s a short list:

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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, March 8, 2018 D9

5 THINGS From Page D8

Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service

I know people on the left who can recite the life story of every MSNBC broadcaster. But righty or lefty, Fox News fan or MSNBC enthusiast, they all say garden tomatoes are incomparably superior. Well, it’s still nearly half a year until 2018 garden tomatoes are

ready here. The wait is long and difficult, but the results will be worth it. In the meantime, remember that you have at least a few things in common with people you may consider evil or stupid or both. Connect on those things.


After a long pause, a veteran journalist said gently, “You wouldn’t say that if you’d ever eaten garden tomatoes. They taste so much better.” The rest of us nodded in agreement. Why are supermarket tomatoes so bland? A high-level scientific study, which seems plausible to my layman eyes, found that flavor-enhancing genes in commercially grown tomatoes have been lost over time, at least in part because supermarket tomatoes were bred for higher yields, disease resistance, redder color and firmness. Yes, garden tomatoes are better. I know people on the right who have memorized Fox News’ entire schedule.

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D10 Thursday, March 8, 2018 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

There’s more behind the ‘We Do Cows’ billboard along I-94 in Melrose By Mikkel Pates Forum News Service MELROSE — The “We Do Cows” billboards make a big impression on Interstate 94 as people travel to and from the Twin Cities. Ag-savvy motorists often smile at the slogan, but few know Leedstone Inc. is a creative and transformative business in the region’s animal health industry. Leedstone is led by veterinarian brothers, David and Dan Tomsche. David, 61, is Leedstone’s president and chief executive officer. Dan, 62, is vice president. “It was always very natural that Dan and I work together,” David says. “We were raised like twins and always best friends. We are very different but offset each other’s strengths and weaknesses nearly perfectly.” Dan says they’ve helped each other be better and anticipate where the industry is heading. “It’s been a privilege to do business with family and friends,” he says, describing his as a support role. In two decades, the Tomsches have disrupted the region’s animal health supply business model, filling prescriptions from some 3,000 veterinarians nationwide. Along the way, they’ve become a leading dealer of some of the world’s most sophisticated and high-tech dairying equipment, including robots. Leedstone today has about 110 employees throughout the region. They are a pharmacy and retail store, with mail-order and dairy equipment entities. They sell dairy chemicals and supplies, and, lately, pet supplies.

The store The family’s veterinary heritage starts with their grandfather, Emil Joseph Tomsche, a 1929 graduate of Iowa State University veterinary college. In 1929, “E.J.” started a practice at Albany, Minn. Their father, Edward Joseph Tomsche, now 86, graduated from the University of Minnesota and joined in 1955, the year Dan was born. Edward built the practice to a twotown practice and worked with four veterinarian partners. He also worked in dairy farming and had ventures in fleet supply stores, an animal vitamin/

premix company, livestock auction market and bottled water. Dan and David grew up in Melrose and traveled with their father on work trips. Both followed their father at the UMN Veterinary College. Dan joined the Albany practice in 1981 and David joined at Melrose in 1983. The 1980s were tough for dairy producers. Most dairies then milked 50 to 70 cows. The “on-call” demands on veterinarians were “overwhelming,” David says. In 1989, David and Dan began a route truck business to deliver chemicals for milking system sanitation. Accounts receivable were getting uncomfortably large. Finances became more challenging when the IRS “encouraged” veterinarians to accrual accounting systems — paying taxes based on their inventories and when the services were

WE DO COWS: Page D11

Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service

David Tomsche, right, president and chief executive officer of Leedstone, Inc., Melrose and his partner and brother, Dan Tomsche.

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304 US Hwy 12 104 1st Street SW 1106 Lincoln Ave 56378 61448 US HWY 12 (CORPORATE OFFICE) Murdock, MN 56271 Clara City, MN 56222 Sauk Rapids, MN Litchfield, MN 55355 3101 3rd Ave. SW Phone: (320) 875-2641 Willmar, MN 56201 Phone: (320) 847-2438 56379 Phone: (320) 693-2411 Toll-free: Phone: (320) 235-5200 Fax: (320) 847-3001 Phone: (320)-252-2110 Fax: (320) 693-3843 (888) 875-2641 Fax: (320)-252-1899 Toll-free: (800) 520-2466 Fax: (320) 875-2295 Fax: (320) 235-6163


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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, March 8, 2018 D11

WE DO COWS From Page D10

rendered, not when they were paid as had been traditional. In 1994 David gained notoriety when he traveled to Japan and saw his first robotic dairies. For several years he consulted for Japanese dairies and Wagyu beef producers. (Today, Leedstone has an export business specializing in dairy/beef business in Japan.)

Sawdust sale In 1995, David and Dan went to the five veterinary partners with an idea for a new, separate business — a warehouse-like store that operated on a cash-and-carry basis. They said the warehouse would compete with the veterinary partners’ existing business, which also sold products. Two of the five partners joined “Stearns Farm and Feed.” The warehouse had front-loading docks designed for producers to come to town to pick up bags of feed and pre-mix. About 95 percent of their business then came from their veterinary clients. The Tomsches wanted their warehouse store to look full, but they couldn’t spend much to do it. So they bought “semi-loads of sawdust in bags — to use as animal bedding,” David says. The sawdust bags cost 25 cents a bag and offered the right ambiance. “I remember unloading the semis myself — by hand,” David says. Next, they waded into dairy’s so-called “steel” business — selling, installing and servicing stainless steel milking and milk systems, as producers shifted away from stanchions and toward milking parlors. In about 2003, the Tomsches contracted with a pharmacist and separated Stearns Farm and Feed from the veterinary practice. Later, they changed the name to Stearns Veterinary Outlet and Pharmacy, and later simply Stearns Vet Outlet. “I thought it defined what our intention was — low-cost products like an outlet store,” David recalls. They started a catalog and soon were filling orders from all over the country. Cattlemen ordered products on Monday through Wednesday. The products often are perishable and had to be delivered by the weekend. As a counter-cyclical move, they added a pet supply business and later he learned that pet owners often order on the weekend. Mondays are “tipped-over” busy, he says. “At the beginning, that overwhelmed us,” David recalls. In about 2007, a large pharmaceuti-

Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service

The well-known slogan, “We Do Cows!” has been around since 2002. It predates the company’s name, Leedstone Inc., which was established in 2013. cal manufacturer came to David to say that his catalog no longer could advertise prices below certain levels. It was “to protect pricing for the local veterinarian,” David says. The Tomsches acquiesced — listing the prescribed pricing in the catalog but implying producers could get better prices faceto-face. They added eight field staff from New York to North Dakota.

Steel and robots In 2010, David brought in Brendon van der Hagen as a chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Van der Hagen has been instrumental in tripling the business while maintaining an employee-friendly culture. In 2013, a Minneapolis marketing consultant urged the Tomsches to change the name — again. They became “Leedstone,” named for an early settlement in Stearns County that is now the city of St. Martin. It was an area where their grandfather often practiced veterinary medicine. Their pet supply company became “Muddy and Inca,” named for David’s two pet dogs. The Tomsches have evolved in their sales of stainless steel milking systems. They started with Westfalia, which merged with Surge and eventually became GEA Farm Technologies. In about 2010 they added Lely systems, specializing in robotic box-type milkers. Leedstone has installed 140 robotic

systems in Minnesota and North Dakota on about 60 farms. A service tech team of more than 25 can remotely monitor any of the more than 130 robots in the two states. The average is two or three robots per farm, but some have eight or nine. In 2017, Leedstone began to handle GEA Farm Technologies systems — a rotary platform with robots in each stall — as producers strive to reduce labor. There are four of the systems in North America. One is under construction in North Dakota and another in central Minnesota. A top GEA official recently predict that 40 or 50 percent of U.S. dairy herds will be milked by robots in the next five to seven years — up from about 2 percent today.

practicing veterinary medicine with Minnesota Veterinary Associates, based

WE DO COWS: Page D13

Frontier war David says he “never meant to declare war” on the bottom line of veterinarians — his family’s chosen profession — but “to some people that’s how it was viewed.” Veterinary is the last medical area where the “prescriber does most of the dispensing,” he says, noting that’s not the case for human dental or optometry. “In most states, veterinarians have the right to say, ‘I will not write a prescription. You have to buy (the pharmaceuticals) from me.’ And we deal with that every single day.” Today, about 90 percent of their business is from outside their immediate area. As Leedstone expands, Dan is still


D12 Thursday, March 8, 2018 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Deere raises sales forecast amid signs of farm recovery By Lydia Mulvany Bloomberg Deere & Co., the world’s largest farm machine maker, raised its fullyear sales forecast, and there’s reason to believe that good news will keep coming. After a prolonged slump for crop prices that slashed farmer income, fundamentals are starting to rebound, according to Farha Aslam, an analyst at Stephens Inc. There’s a chorus echoing that view. Bunge Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder said that there are early signs of a recovery for the markets. An index measuring sentiment in rural agricultural communities rose to the highest since 2014 in February, while a Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City report showed farmland prices are starting to stabilize.

statement that equipment sales are projected to increase by about 29 percent in the financial year that lasts through October, and by as much as 40 percent in its fiscal second quarter. It also said net revenues will increase by about 25 percent in fiscal 2018, up from a prior view of about 22 percent. It forecast full-year net income, excluding the impact of tax-related adjustments, of $2.85 billion. That exceeds the average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg for $2.7 billion. The company reported a surprise first-quarter loss of $535 million, which included the writedown of net deferred tax assets following U.S. taxation reform. “Although net income for the quarter and full

Green shoots for the farm economy can only help Deere, which is already on an upswing as corporate farmers begin to replace older equipment. Cuts to inventory and output during the downturn are now adding to the company’s positive outlook as it produces more of its iconic green-and-yellow machines to meet demand. A turnaround in the farm economy “would kick-start demand to an even greater extent,” said Matt Arnold, an analyst with Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis. Sentiment in agriculture “can change on a dime. A weather event could prompt an upswing in grain prices and income, and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen one of those.” Deere said Friday in a

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year are being affected by the upfront costs of U.S. tax reform legislation, we believe the changes will reduce the company’s overall tax rate and be beneficial in the future,” said Deere CEO Sam Allen said in the statement. Outside of agriculture, Deere expanded its construction equipment unit last year with the acquisition of Wirtgen Group, a roadbuilding company, amid a global boom in building. Deere’s construction and forestry segment saw a 57 percent increase in sales in first quarter. “The construction business is low-margin for Deere, so wasn’t meaningful to earnings in the past,” said Karen Ubelhart, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. “But now it is,” given the Wirtgen acquisition.

Carla Gottgens / Bloomberg

A John Deere combine harvester works a field in fall 2017.






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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, March 8, 2018 D13

FFA prepares students for future careers


Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service

David Tomsche, president and chief executive officer of Leedstone, Inc. keeps a his grandfather’s veterinary bag and other artifacts in his office at Melrose. Emil Joseph Tomsche started a veterinary practice in 1929 at Albany.

WE DO COWS From Page D11

at Melrose, Sauk Centre, Rice and Little Falls. Dan’s son, Grant, also is a veterinarian in that practice and is on the board of Leedstone. “I remind our sales team and employee base that we work for the dairy farmer. They get up at 2 a.m. to check a cow that’s having a calf. The beef farmer does the same

‘We Do Cows’ came from despair People often ask: Where did that “We Do Cows!” slogan come from? Surprisingly, the light-hearted catch phrase was born from a “moment of great despair,” says David Tomsche, president of what is now Leedstone Inc. It was 2002, and David had left the veterinary practice to expand the animal health supply business. But the clinic suffered some setbacks so David returned as a practicing veterinarian from 2002 to 2007. One day at 2 a.m, David found himself driving home after delivering a beef calf on a farm where he’d never been before. “I was pretty sad, coming home,” David says. “I just said

thing,” David says. “They often work in brutal cold. It’s not easy work by any means, and it’s not the most financially rewarding profession in the world. We have to pass on as many savings to them as we can.” And economic downturns are opportunities. “That’s when we grow the most, because then people are reluctantly willing to ask the uncomfortable question from their veterinarian: ‘Will you write a prescription for me?’” to myself aloud, ‘Here I am, not where I want to be anymore. And all I’m doing is, I’m just doing cows.’” The next day David was at an early meeting at Leedstone. They were looking for a billboard theme. “I said, ‘Here’s a thought I have: We Do Cows. What do we think? Is it too aggressive? Too awkward to put on a billboard?’” (The company sells artificial insemination supplies.) Negative responses were few. “Once it started to work, we pushed it hard,” Tomsche says. They billboarded their route supply trucks, their catalog. And it branded their catalog, eventually beginning to usurp the name of the company. Today, the main brand is Leedstone and the catchy slogan is targeted primarily for dairy services.

s FFA only for farm kids, rural students or for students not in sports, music or other activities? If that’s what you think, you’re wrong. And if I can influence one person to encourage a student they KATIE know to join PINKE FFA, my goal The Pinke Post for this column is achieved. I once was someone who didn’t know the scope of FFA. Not until I became a hiring manager did I see the true impact FFA can have on young adults pursuing their career passions. That’s when I realized how having FFA membership on a resume can differentiate one applicant from the rest. It’s not the accolades that can go along with FFA — it is the whole FFA experience that makes the difference. I learned FFA is for kids who want to succeed and work to achieve their dreams and goals in life. It builds a foundation for them to grow and build their skill sets and career opportunities. I never attended a school with an FFA program. Even if I had, I probably would not have known the impact FFA could have had on me or the way it could have built my confidence and leadership skills and prepare me for future career goals through its career development focus. FFA experience comes into full bloom for young adults, long after the days of wearing the signature blue corduroy jacket are over, in agriculture careers and outside of agriculture in medicine, science, technology and business. Today, without looking at a resume, I can almost

Submitted photo

Members of the New London-Spicer FFA team pose with their awards. always spot applicants in an interview setting who have FFA experience. What do I see and hear from those applicants? Here’s my top six list: 1. FFA alumni are prepared. In my observations over the past 15 years, FFAexperienced people don’t go cold into an interview. They have practiced, researched and prepared. 2. Job applicants with FFA experience have been taught to address the people in the room. They do not focus on only one person in the interview. They address each person and don’t stare at the floor with an uncomfortable approach. They have been taught, prepared and trained to work the room of people with their communications skills. 3. FFA students and alumni know how to approach an interview with eye contact and a firm handshake, and they know how to introduce themselves. 4. Job applicants with FFA experience listen to the question asked of them and respond truthfully. Often job applicants are nervous and have tried to prepare answers ahead of time to match what they think they’ll be asked. They start answering before they even hear the question. I’ve noticed they listen longer

and more intently, and this seems to be a direct result of their FFA experience. 5. FFA-experienced applicants are always professionally dressed. While they are no longer wearing the beloved FAA blue corduroy jacket, their shoes are usually closed toe and polished, a trait of attending many career development events and competitions through FFA. 6. Job applicants with FFA experience exude confidence. FFA builds confidence through teaching, preparation and the competition processes. According to the National FFA Organization, 653,359 students in grades seven through 12 belong to one of 8,568 FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, making FFA the largest youth membership organization in the country. FFA week was recently celebrated Feb. 17-24. Thank you to the teachers, advisors, schools and communities who support agriculture education and FFA programs to give the foundation to a next generation of leaders, employees and business professionals. Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

D14 Thursday, March 8, 2018 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.


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West Central MN Agriculture  
West Central MN Agriculture  

Spring agriculture section published by West Central Tribune.