Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson talks about the future of agriculture in the state Tuesday at the Ag Luncheon. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Ag commissioner speaks at luncheon

Published 9:26am Wednesday, March 16, 2011

By 2050, the world will require twice as much food as it does today.

“It’s a tough challenge,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “The decisions we make today will have a great impact for years to come. Minnesota farmers are already producing more to feed more people around the world while trying to conserve natural resources.”

Frederickson spoke to about 150 people who attended the sixth annual Agriculture Luncheon Tuesday, hosted by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. The event was held on National Ag Day, which is designated by the Agriculture Council of America to recognize and celebrate agriculture.

Frederickson, a farmer from Murdock, worked as an agricultural outreach director for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar before he was appointed to a four-year term in his current position by Gov. Mark Dayton in January. His wide range of experience, including former president of both the Minnesota Farmers Union and National Farmers Union, has kept him out talking with farmers and lobbying for them.

After he was elected as a Minnesota state senator in 1986, he helped introduce a bill into legislation pushing for more ethanol in gas. He said what drove that was not only cleaning up the air quality and trying to wean the country from its dependence on foreign oil, but also trying to give added value to corn and creating jobs.

“Times were tough on the family farm in 1986, ’87,” he said.

Frederickson also discussed the current budget situation in St. Paul, adding there’s only a proposed 5 percent reduction in spending within the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. He’s pleased it’s not more, as he said reductions up to 53 percent plague some other departments.

The diversity in agriculture is one of the greatest assets in farming in Minnesota, which Frederickson said will be essential to the future of ag in the state.

Farm Family of the Year

Before Frederickson took the microphone, Dan and Jenny Erickson of Alden were named the Farm Family of the Year. Erickson farms about 700 acres of mainly corn and beans with some alfalfa, and custom raises dairy cattle. He also farms about 700 acres with his father, Chuck Erickson.

Chamber ag committee chairman Parnell Thorson said the committee received applications nominating about eight families, and it was a tough decision.

“They have a nice operation, very diversified,” Thorson said.

Look for a feature on the Ericksons in the Thursday edition.

Thorson said the annual luncheon brings awareness of what’s going on in the ag community to business people and residents of Freeborn County. He said it’s also a time to thank business and community leaders for continuing to support agriculture.

District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks, Freeborn County 1st District Commissioner Glen Mathiason, Riverland Community College President Terrence Leas and Albert Lea Economic Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman were among those in attendance.

The ag committee also supports other events throughout the year, including the Third Grade Farm Tours each September and the 4-H livestock sale at the Freeborn County Fair in August.