ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesotans share state's ag message with the world

About 35 representatives of foreign governments spent a week touring farms, research sites and agribusinesses across Minnesota. Visits ranged from Hormel and soybean farms in the southeast to sugarbeet farms and processing in the Red River Valley.

IMG_2395.JPG
Kris and Cordell Huebsch of Otter Berry Farm near Perham, Minnesota, talk about their farm operation and answer questions for a tour group of representatives from several foreign countries. The tour group spent a week in Minnesota learning about agriculture.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
We are part of The Trust Project.

PERHAM, Minn. — Minnesota got a chance to show off its agricultural prowess to the world.

A group of about 35 representatives of foreign governments spent a week touring farms, research sites and agribusinesses across the state. Visits ranged from Hormel and soybean farms in the southeast to sugarbeet farms and processing in the Red River Valley.

The stops included a visit to Otter Berry Farm south of Perham, where participants on the tour learned about kidney beans and the Northarvest edible bean commodity group, and the agritourism perspective of the farm, which in includes berry picking, selling pumpkins and gourds and a corn maze.

“I just love having people come out to see how we do things here,” said Cordell Huebsch, who operates Otter Berry with his wife Kris and their two daughters. “Not everybody knows about dark red kidney beans; it’s kind of an obscure crop.”

The couple, along with other representatives of Northarvest fielded questions on Thursday, Sept. 22. Questions ranged from irrigation to liability insurance for visitors to the farm.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ben Rau, who grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, is with the Foreign Ag Service, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and helped organize the tour along with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Because of COVID-19, it is the first such tour since 2019.

“One of the things that has really struck me and I think has struck a lot of the participants, … is just sort of the innovation that is going on both on the farm level, in terms of reducing impact on the environment, working on cover crops, coming up with new techniques to create both economic and environmental sustainability, then also the innovation that is happening in the Twin Cities and around the state in the agribusiness sector as well,” Rau said.

One of the attaches on the tour was Matthew Worrell, who started working in Washington, D.C., this year as a representative of the Australian government.

It was his first visit to Minnesota, and he said he found it interesting that there was good competition among agribusinesses but also collaboration.

“I’ve been really amazed at the really strong sort of ag ecosystem that you’ve got here,” Worrell said.

He said he hears from the leaders of commodity groups on issues such as the need for competition in the meatpacking industry, but appreciated hearing about the issue from the operator of Revier Cattle Company in Olivia, Minnesota.

“It was good to hear his perspective as a farmer,” Worrell said.

IMG_2303.JPG
The corn maze is part of Otter Berry Farm's agritourism efforts.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

Participants on the tour also got a chance to wander through the Otter Berry corn maze that is open on weekends up until Halloween.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cordell and Kris Huebsch diversified into becoming a tourist destination about six years ago.

“We knew there was a need for strawberries in this area and it’s evolved into more of an agritourism thing,” Cordell Huebsch said.

IMG_2275.JPG
Pumpkins and gourds are available to purchase at Otter Berry Farm south of Perham, Minnesota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

Part of the reason to add strawberries and pumpkins was to involve their two daughters, who are now ages 12 and 10. They help provide some of the hand labor needed for strawberries and pumpkins and also work directly with visitors.

“It’s great to have the kids meet the public,” Cordell Huebsch said.

IMG_2340.JPG
Cordell Huebsch and his wife, Kris, answer questions for a group representing multiple foreign countries during a tour of Otter Berry Farm south of Perham, Minnesota, on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

The more conventional part of the farm is kidney beans rotated with corn, which requires irrigation on the sandy soils in the lakes area of Otter Tail County.

Huebsch said the kidney beans should make an average crop this year, despite the late planting after a cool, wet spring.

“We got the heat units we needed to make some beans; nothing to complain about on that front,” Huebsch said.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
What to read next
This week on AgweekTV, as our Thankful for Ag series continues, we'll visit a farm that's helping find a cure for Huntington's Disease with some very special sheep. We'll meet a family who's thankful for "the little things." Commodity groups come together to promote sustainability. And a North Dakota tree farm is growing Christmas cheer.
Meat cutting courses at Ridgewater College and Central Lakes College are helping train the next generation of meat processing professionals, but more work is needed to build a more resilient system.
The expansion northwest of Fargo, North Dakota, will allow Peterson Farms Seed to more quickly moving process bulk soybean seed for its dealers, the company said in a news release.
The Mill in Glen Ullin plans to make custom pelleted feed mixes for livestock, including cattle, bison and sheep. The Mill already is mixing loose feeds.