For his entire life, Dan Glessing's family has been associated with Minnesota Farm Bureau.
"The organization has done a lot for myself and my family," said Glessing, who was elected president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation on Nov. 19 at MFBF's annual meeting. "My grandparents were members, my parents were members and active on the county level — and once I saw all that Farm Bureau was doing for farmers and agriculture in rural areas, I threw my hat in and got active."
His first Farm Bureau memory was going with his dad to help set up the county fair booths the night before the fair started.
"That was a highlight for any farm kid, getting to go in and see the fair a night early," he said.
Glessing, who was recently a guest on the Agweek Podcast, resides in Waverly, Minnesota, where he and his wife raise four children who'll be the fifth generation of dairy farmers. The family milks about 80 cows, raises market steers and grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa.
"They're good help, and much appreciated around here," Glessing said of his kids.
His wife, Seena, is a high school ag teacher and FFA advisor at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School. Like Glessing, she was raised on a dairy farm and is passionate about the lifestyle. The two met while they were both active in FFA alumni chapters and married in 2003.
Taking over the reins
The vote to elect Glessing, who served as vice president of MFBF for the last seven years, came during the delegate session at the 103rd MFBF convention. He succeeded former MFBF President Kevin Paap, who announced this spring that he wouldn't run for reelection after serving 16 years in the position.
Elected to to fill the remaining year of the vice president’s term was Carolyn Olson of Marshall in Lyon County.
Glessing said the idea of running for MFBF president always "intrigued" him, but he didn't make the decision to do so until Paap announced he was stepping down, and he got the blessing from his wife and kids.
Paap is an influential voice in the state's ag industry and left behind some big shoes to fill, but Glessing said he's just focused on hearing the voices of Farm Bureau members.
"There is a certain amount of pressure," said Glessing. "But I'll be honest, our members are second to none, and they're gracious, and good leaders within their communities. And I'm just proud to be able to represent them."
Like Paap, Glessing brings the perspective of a current Minnesota farmer to MFBF's leadership role. He believes it's important for someone representing farmers and a farmer organization to be doing the every day work of a farmer.
"I feel like an important and vital thing to have is that firsthand knowledge," said Glessing. "And I think that goes for when you're talking to consumers, too, because consumers want to talk to farmers to find out what's going on."
Policy differs for Minnesota's top farm groups — MFBF and Minnesota Farmers Union. Glessing said the "individualities" is what sets the two apart, but that both organizations have a willingness to find the common good for producers in the state.
"At the end of the day, we go with what our members have passed on that delegate floor, as far as what we're advocating for and the direction we need to go," said Glessing. "If we can find common ground with NFU, by all means, we're not opposed to working together to get something passed."
An issue that MFBF will address early into Glessing's first term will be the Environmental Protection Agency's June 2021 decision to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Glessing said the EPA "reverted to an old rule" that Farm Bureau has opposed for a long time.
"We want the word navigable in there, so that those rules are clear," said Glessing of the definition of Waters of the United States. "Farmers are for clean water, we just need to make sure we know what rules we're following."
A topic also on the docket for MFBF is a drought relief package, said Glessing, with farmers across the state still waiting on the Minnesota Legislature. An agreement has yet to be reached between Republican lawmakers and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz for a special session.
"Certain areas of the state need those grants for forage and specialty crop relief, because they don't have the crop insurance side to help with that, when their livestock need feed," said Glessing. "There is nothing to help with that."