Still ‘home’ in agriculture

This Minnesota cooperative general manager has had a career that has taken him to posts at all levels of agriculture in the region's grain and livestock arena.

Daniel “Dan” Noreen of Hawley, Minn., is general manager of the Argyle (Minn.) Cooperative Warehouse Elevator Association, as part of a varied agricultural career in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Photo taken July 20, 2020, at Argyle, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Agweek

ARGYLE, Minn. — Daniel “Dan” Noreen has been at all levels of the grain and livestock agriculture culture across Minnesota, the Dakotas and surrounding states.

Noreen, 55, for less than a year has been general manager of the Argyle (Minn.) Cooperative Warehouse Association.

He grew up on a farm that grew wheat, barley, oats, hogs, a little corn for feed, and just starting into the “new” crop of soybeans. His family had off-farm jobs to “keep things going.” After graduating high school in 1983 Noreen went on to North Dakota State University in agricultural economics and graduated in 1987, with a minor in animal science.

“I thought I would be in ag finance, ag lending … but if you recall back in the late ’80s people (loan officers, bank presidents) were getting shot at, in the (Farmers Home Administration) days, so I opted not to do that,” Noreen says.

Noreen and his high school sweetheart, Sara, married and moved to Brandon, S.D. For three years, Noreen did “audits” for co-ops and private elevators owned by Benson-Quinn Co., a grain commission firm based in Minneapolis.


After three years, Noreens moved to Owatonna, Minn., where he became the in-house controller for a Benson-Quinn-owned grain and feed business. After two years, he managed a Benson-Quinn elevator in Owatonna. In 1993, Noreen moved to Benson-Quinn’s downtown headquarters in Minneapolis as the company controller. When Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Ill., offered to buy Benson-Quinn, Noreen helped complete the ADM-Benson-Quinn transaction.

In 1997, Noreen took a job at Sleepy Eye, Minn., as vice president of business development for Christiansen Family Farms. That’s the family-owned pork producer that today has 1,000 employees and 1,500 contract partners. “I’d go out and visit with farmers who wanted to build hog confinement facilities and feed pigs for our company under contract, help them get barns built, financed, the contract work that goes with that,” Noreen said.

In 2006, the Noreens and three school-aged daughters moved back home to Hawley, Minn.

For a “short year,” Noreen again took a Moorhead, Minn., job doing financial reports for Benson-Quinn’s shuttle loaders in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Then Agassiz Valley Grain at Barnesville, Minn., hired him as general manager for their newly remodeled shuttle loader elevator. “I kind of knew the inside and outside of the business side; the operations side was brand new for me,” he recalls. In his 12 years there, the company grew from 7 million bushels to 16 million bushels.

Wanting still a new challenge, Noreen made his name available for “interim” elevator manager posts. He talked with elevators in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin, but he took a six-month position at Argyle. A year ago they hired him for the permanent post, commuting from Hawley.

He’s still bullish on agriculture. “I’m jealous of the kids coming out of college, now and in the next number of years,” he said. “There are going to be huge opportunities in agriculture” in topics ranging from technology in marketing to precision agriculture,” Noreen said.

His biggest concern for agriculture is the “political stuff” that unexpectedly disrupts agriculture. “Somehow we’ll evolve,” he said. “Our dads and grandparents probably had the same comments back in their time —things are messed up and won’t be the same again. It won’t be the same, but it will be — hopefully — better, different. That’s kind of exciting.”

Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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