Letter: Farmer’s experience needed in St. Paul

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My name is Terry Gjersvik, and I am a farmer running for the District 27A seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. District 27A includes all of Freeborn County and some of Minnesota’s most productive farmland. The Minnesota Legislature is comprised of 201 legislators from various occupations, but only five farmers. None of these farmer legislators live in the south central region of Minnesota. I believe that a representative with agricultural  experience is needed in District 27A and the state Legislature.

I raise soybeans and corn near Manchester, and my wife, Dara, teaches elementary school in Albert Lea. We have three adult children and one grandchild. After graduating from Albert Lea High School, I studied agriculture at the University of Minnesota Waseca before transferring to the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, where I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics. In my final year there, I interned with Rep. Jerry Schoenfeld of Waseca in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Jerry had been my animal science instructor at the U of M -Waseca.

My first job was managing grain elevators for Cargill Inc. during the 1980s farm crisis. Working at three different Iowa locations, I purchased corn and soybeans and retailed fertilizer, herbicide, custom application and feed. The ag economy continued to change, and I began working for an ag software company facilitating mergers of local farmer-owned co-ops. For 15 years I traveled the Midwest extensively, working with grain elevator software in small rural communities  and observing firsthand the interdependent connection between rural towns and the outlying producers.

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Few outside of production agriculture understand the complex challenges facing farmers. The past four years of low commodity prices combined with high input costs and property taxes have reduced farm incomes and hurt farmers and rural communities.

Nearly one-third of Minnesota farmers saw their net worth decline in 2017. The USDA is forecasting a 6.7 percent drop in national farm income to $59.5 billion, a 50 percent drop from the record of $120 billion set in 2013. Land values remain high, and access to land is difficult. Bringing on the next generation of farmers is challenging. Health care costs are a major burden for farm families. Farmers struggle with maintaining profitability, while at the same time implementing new environmental regulations. Profitable farming and sustainable environmental practices can co-exist, but it’s challenging and requires a great deal of knowledge and experience.

I understand these issues because my livelihood depends on it, and I hope you consider voting for me Nov. 6. We need another farmer’s knowledge and experience in St. Paul. If elected, I will be the voice and ears of farmers, landowners, ag retailers and the communities whose success depends upon their profitability. I pledge to cross party lines and partner with anyone willing to work for a better Minnesota. If you’re interested in learning more about my campaign and perhaps work with me, please visit our website at gjersivkfor27a.com or the Gjersvik for 27A Facebook page. Together we work, and together we win.

Terry Gjersvik