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Published February 07, 2012, 11:49 AM

N.D. grower wins top award

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Third-generation Grand Forks, N.D., farmer Gregg Halverson has been named 2012 Top Producer of the Year by Top Producer magazine.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Third-generation Grand Forks, N.D., farmer Gregg Halverson has been named 2012 Top Producer of the Year by Top Producer magazine.

He’s president and chief executive officer of Black Gold Farms, a family-owned potato growing and marketing organization based in Grand Forks. The company is the world’s largest producer of fresh-crop chipping potatoes.

“This award isn’t just for me. It’s spread out to all our employees,” Halverson says. The company has 130 employees, including Halverson’s sons, John and Eric, and his daughter, Leah. Twenty-five of its employees are in Grand Forks.

Gregg Halverson, 62, received the award at a recent Top Producer Seminar in Chicago. Top Producer magazine describes itself as “devoted to the business of farming” and having a “focus on industry leaders.”

Halverson competed for the award against corn and soybean farmers from Iowa and Michigan.

His children nominated him for the award about six months ago, and he learned about a month ago that he was a candidate.

Black Gold grows about 20,000 acres of potatoes, as well as other crops, in 11 states. It also grows sweet potatoes in three southern states. Despite their names, potatoes and sweet potatoes have very little in common, Gregg Halverson says.

The family business, launched in 1928, has quadrupled in size in the past decade. Black Gold has received a number of industry awards for innovation and adopting advanced technology.

The company continues to look for expansion opportunities, Halverson says.

Halverson’s son, John of Paragould Ark., is an operations vice president for Black Gold and is responsible for Midwest production. His son Eric is the company’s vice president of technology. His daughter Leah is director of marketing and communications at Black Gold Farms.

Some people question whether large farms operated by a family can be called a family farm. Black Gold Farms definitely qualifies as a family farm, Gregg Halverson says.

“We have a family farm culture,” he says.

Farming should be treated not as way of life, but rather as a business wrapped around a family farm culture, he says.

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