There's a changing of the guard at the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, with the transition expected to be completed next summer.

Mitch Coulter has joined the group as executive director. Tim Courneya, the association's long-time executive vice president, remains in that post and will help in the transition until he retires sometime in the summer of 2021, at which time Coulter — as executive director — will take over top leadership.

"I have 44 years of dry bean experience, and I'll help Mitch while I'm still here," said Courneya, 67.

When he began at the association, executive vice president was a common term for the top job at a commodity organization. Over time, executive director has become widely used, Courneya said.

As executive director, Coulter will work closely with the association's board of directors and the North Dakota and Minnesota Dry Bean councils. He also will oversee programs, projects and contracts, manage office staff and help with budget development.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Before joining the dry bean group, Coulter did commodity marketing and biofuels work for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

"It's so important to me to help and work for farmers," said Coulter, who grew up on a row crop and livestock farm in west central Minnesota. "That's why I am excited to meet dry bean growers, work with them and find new markets for our product.

North Dakota is the nation's leader in dry bean production, typically accounting for about a third of U.S. acreage. Minnesota ranks near the top. with farmers in South Dakota and Montana growing dry beans as well. Dry beans, also known as edible beans, come in many types, including pinto, navy and black. Some are sold on the open market, others grown on contract.

Formed in 1976 as a cooperative effort between dry bean growers in North Dakota and Minnesota, the association says it "provides a full range of services and funding to help producers and shippers supply the world with dry beans." These efforts help fund export marketing initiatives, advertising, trade shows, public relations and communications. NBGA also funds research to improve the quantity, variety and quality of dry beans grown in the region.

Coulter is based at the association's offices in Fargo, N.D. Courneya has been based at Frazee, Minn.

Coulter can be reached by phone at 701-365-5103 or at mitch@northarvestbean.net.