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Published August 01, 2009, 12:00 AM

'Dirt under the nails'

REGENT — Help out North Dakota’s farmers, that’s what Regent fourth-generation farmer Aaron Krauter said he hopes to accomplish as the new state director for the federal Farm Service Agency.

By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

REGENT — Help out North Dakota’s farmers, that’s what Regent fourth-generation farmer Aaron Krauter said he hopes to accomplish as the new state director for the federal Farm Service Agency.

Krauter learned Wednesday he would head the agency, which handles federal farm programs.

Krauter, who was born and raised on the farm where he and his family reside, said he felt it was a natural step for him to pursue the position.

“I’ve been involved in farm programs and understand them,” Krauter said. “Whenever we change administrations, all of these appointed positions come up. When I sensed that Obama was going to win the presidency, I, as a Democrat, thought ‘now here is an opportunity that I could continue to serve the public and use the skills and knowledge I gained in production agriculture.’”

Kratuer expressed an interest in the position and visited with the congressional delegation which recommended him to the White House.

“I think it’s unique to have a farmer from southwest North Dakota involved at this level,” Krauter said. “Somebody who’s got calluses on their hands and dirt under their nails, that can step in and represent production agriculture.”

U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack said he believes Krauter is right for the job.

“Krauter has a solid understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our rural communities and will help build on the Obama Administration’s efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America,” he said.

Krauter graduated from Regent High School in 1974 and went to the University of Mary where he got a degree in music education and taught music. Soon after, he acquired a business degree.

From 1985-1987 Krauter served as corporate operations manager for Best Products, Inc. in Richmond, Va., directing operations analysts in 220 retail stores across the United States.

Eventually, his travels brought him home.

Since 1987, Krauter has owned and ran a 3,000-acre family farming operation, which he took over and formed into a no-till production farm.

“We try to use the latest advancements in technology so we can conserve every bit of moisture to make a crop grow in southwest North Dakota,” Krauter said. “When we came back to the farm, I looked at my dad’s records and I looked at what we were doing and I said we aren’t just going to make a living at this. I said we’ve got to find out a way to utilize every drop of moisture.”

The family is now in its 11th year of zero-tilling.

“It’s working — we’re raising a crop in good quality,” Krauter said. “We crop every acre and we crop it with a rotation of durum and some broadleaf crops like canola and flax. We also try to slip in an alfalfa in once in a while.”

Farm family values are something the family has worked hard to instill in its children, said wife Cindy.

“We’re a family that, if an opportunity comes along for the kids to do something better or to have a better opportunity we jump at it,” she said. “We’re all excited for the new opportunities.

“We’ve built in all our kids the work ethics of the southwestern farm life so they’ve got a good background.”

Krauter and his wife Cindy have three children, Emily, 19, Mitchell, 17, and Hannah 13.

Krauter serves in the North Dakota State Senate, where he has been elected to five four-year terms. He sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and from 2000-2003 served as Senate minority leader.

“I’ve got a lot of seniority in the Senate, it’s going to be hard leaving that,” Krauter said. “But that’s a public-service type of thing where I’m just going on to the next level.”

Krauter has also been active in the North Dakota Farmers Union and other organizations.

In his position, Krauter said wants to help producers and to help finish writing the rules for the 2008 Farm Bill.

“One of the bigger issues that I’ll be working on will be to continually reform crop insurance,” Krauter said. “I think I can bring a lot of experience from a state director to the national level. I would have been a little discouraged if they had appointed a state director who was just an office person for the last 20 years versus somebody that’s out there with a farmer’s hat on and has basically lived it.

I’m gonna get calls from producers and their gonna chew my ear off, but I can tell them to stop, breathe through their nose and lets talk about it. That’s what you’ve got to do to be able to relate to them.”

August will be a transition time, Krauter said, after which he will fully take over and begin working in Fargo. The family plans to move to Fargo.

“Our plans are to move to Fargo, but this is still home,” Krauter said. “This farmhouse is home, this table is where we have supper. They aren’t making anymore land and they aren’t making any more farms. This is home.”