Cech family named Freeborn County’s Farm Family of the Year

Published 7:36 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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Aaron and Tammy Cech and their family were named the 2023 Farm Family of the Year during Wednesday afternoon’s 18th annual Agriculture Luncheon put on by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce

“I was very humbled,” Aaron Cech said.

The Cechs live north of Myrtle, where they raise corn, soybeans and hogs. They’re also involved with their local fire department, volunteer for the Bethlehem church in Myrtle and are active in 4-H. Aaron Cech himself grew up farming.

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Every county in Minnesota selects a Farm Family of the Year, and the criteria are twofold: the family has to be involved in agriculture, and they have to be involved in their local community.

There will be a statewide celebration in August for all 87 county farm families.

Besides announcing this year’s farm family, The luncheon also featured Julie Tesch, president and CEO at the Center for Rural Policy and Development for Minnesota, who spoke to everyone in attendance. The center is involved in research on rural Minnesota and policy.

“Our job is to make research about rural places come alive,” she said to open her presentation.

Rural Minnesota grew in terms of population, according to the last census, specifically in three areas: lakes country, regional centers including Mankato and Rochester and wherever there were processing centers such as Austin and Worthington.

She argued the state was at a point where people were needed, and it was not just rural 18-year-olds who were leaving. Rather, it was 18-year-olds everywhere.

“That’s what 18-year-olds do,” she said. “They go to college, they go to the military, they work, it’s what they do.”

Instead, she wanted a reason for young people to come back and make a rural community a great place to live. Rural communities have what families were looking for: smaller schools, safety and outdoor opportunities.

Southern Minnesota also has a diverse economy that includes manufacturing, health services and education, she said.

“My gosh, things are just booming,” she said.

Because the cost of living is lower in rural Minnesota, and with salaries increasing, she said people wanted to work from home.

“We have a people problem,” she said. “We don’t have a job problem, we need people.”

To fix the problem, she urged recruitment of people, something she described as a systemic problem.