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Bosma excited to continue farming legacy, server on board

Rodney Bosma and his family operate a diversified farming operation located in Nobles and Jackson counties in Minnesota and Osceola County in Iowa.
The operation currently consists of corn, soybeans and hay production. The family also raises cattle and hogs.
Bosma said he is excited and blessed to be working alongside the family farm’s fifth generation.
“I am excited to see the next generation of farmers come into agriculture,” he said.
Bosma was recently elected to the Compeer Financial Board of Directors. He previously served on Compeer Financial’s nominating committee and the organization’s client advisory council.
“I see a diverse ag economy that includes farms of all shapes and sizes, each having its own risk and profit margins,” Bosma said. “Compeer must be prepared to service each of these types of farms based on their specific needs.”
Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving agriculture and rural communities. Bosma has been a Farm Credit member for 33 years.
He said the primary issues facing agriculture and Compeer Financial today include finding qualified people to be able to handle tasks at hand.
“Today, every business in the United States has trouble keeping quality people on the payroll,” he said. “Agriculture is no different.”
Another issue is what Bosma called the “proper promotion of agriculture issues.” That includes “making sure the public has the correct information,” he said, and keeping U.S. agriculture No. 1 in the world.
Bosma said he is excited to be a part of the Compeer Financial Board of Directors.
“In our 33-year history, our family has been truly blessed by every employee we have had dealings with in the Compeer organization,” he said. “This has prompted me to want to learn more about the inner workings of the Compeer management group. Because I had a front-row seat to the 1980s farm crisis, I feel I bring enough older thinking to the board.”
Bosma said his goals as a board member are twofold — to bring a balance of his experience and today’s “newer agricultural thoughts” to the board, and to bring board representation “back to the far western edge of Compeer Financial’s territory.”
Bosma is a graduate of Worthington Community College with a degree in agriculture production management. He’s also a graduate of the Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s Farm Business Management Program.
He is a member of the Rushmore Fire and Rescue Department and has served as a Kanaranzi-Little Rock Watershed District board member.
Bosma has been married to his wife, Bonnie, for 31 years. The couple has three daughters and one son, two sons-in-law and one granddaughter.

For Gordon, diversification is name of the game

Diversification is the name of the game for Nobles County farmer Bill Gordon.
He’s diversified his land use, setting aside 400 acres of ground for buffer strips and wetlands while continuing to farm 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans.
He’s diversified his business interests as the owner of Worthington Tax and Business Service, in addition to his full-time job as farmer.
And he’s diversified his involvement in agricultural leadership, serving on the Nobles County Corn and Soybean Growers Board, serving as an officer for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and — just recently — being elected president of the American Soybean Association.
“This is very rewarding,” Gordon said of being named ASA president at the association’s December board meeting. “It’s been a long journey since 2004 and I’m excited for this opportunity; 2020 is going to be an exciting year.”
Gordon, a Worthington native, is the sixth Minnesota farmer to serve as ASA president and the 82nd in the advocacy organization’s history. He previously served as ASA vice president.
Gordon started his agricultural leadership career in 2004 as an ASA Young Leader, later becoming vice president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. During his seven years on the ASA board, Gordon has delved into public affairs, biodiesel and transportation issues, environmental stewardship and international marketing. In 2019 alone, he represented the ASA and Minnesota farmers on international trade missions to Southeast Asia and South America.
Gordon, his wife and his parents live on the fourth-generation family farm that celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020. ASA is also celebrating its centennial in 2020. In 2019, the Gordons were named Nobles County’s 2019 “Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.
While he said his involvement with Worthington Tax and Business Service serves as a form of enjoyment, he and his wife, Dr. Dawn Gordon, are also avid scuba divers and raise four children — Luke, Lance, Anna and Liam.
“‘Unwinding’ for me is doing taxes and meeting with people and solving those problems,” Gordon said. “I like to hang out with my family too. What I like about all the activities I do is they’re all different.”
During his term as ASA president, Gordon hopes to recruit a more diverse demographics to ASA; he’s aiming to help bring more women and African-American farmers into the “soy family.”
“We have a really tight-knit team from top to bottom at ASA,” he said, “and I think everyone appreciates that by having different voices, that’s good for the board as a whole.”
Gordon said he will advocate for a swift resolution to the trade war in China, along with the removal of tariffs, as a primary goal during his year-long presidential term. Working out more robust trade deals with more international markets, extending the Biodiesel Tax Credit and pushing for infrastructure upgrades and more value-added soybeans are also high priorities for Gordon and ASA in 2020.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and the (2020) election is going to influence the next four years, at least,” Gordon said. “Hopefully we can get some legislation passed. If I can, at the end of my term, tell farmers, ‘We got these things done to improve your profitability,’ then I think I’ll be very happy.”
Gordon will be traveling domestically and internationally often in his capacity as ASA president — up to six months out of the year, he estimates — and plans to find the next crop of soybean leaders along the way.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity to represent soybean farmers across the country,” he said.
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Lusk finds satisfaction in helping his neighbors
 

Rudy Lusk is a lifelong resident of Jackson County. After graduating from Jackson High School, he went on to further his education at Southwest Minnesota State University, where he earned a degree in business.
“I grew up in Jackson and have never left the area,” Lusk said. “Now my wife, Darcy, and I live on a small wooded acreage just northeast of the city of Jackson.”
Although neither Lusk nor his wife was raised on a farm or has ever farmed, both have careers dealing with farmers or farm families. He is a salesman for Arnolds Inc. of Kimball; she is the Jackson County 4-H extension educator.
“I did not grow up on a farm,” Lusk said. “My father was the only sibling of his brothers who stayed in school to finish the 12th grade and play high school sports. Because of this decision, his father did not grant him any split of the family farmland since his brothers stayed home to farm after finishing the eighth grade. It was this decision that made his career as a car salesman, raising us children as city kids.”
After finishing his schooling, Lusk managed his family’s music store in downtown Jackson until its closing in 1983. He entered the agricultural world in 1984 when he went to work for Ag-Chem Equipment in Jackson. For the next 20 years, Lusk was employed by Ag-Chem, which he said guided him to where he is today.
“I am currently employed by Arnolds Inc.,” Lusk said. “Arnolds is a Case implement dealer with seven locations throughout southern and central Minnesota with their corporate office in Kimball. I am a sprayer specialist working exclusively with the self-propelled sprayer lines, which includes the Case and Miller product lines. My responsibilities include selling to the grower and commercial market, maintaining market share, providing technical and service support, training, evaluating used equipment and participating in farm and commercial shows.”
Lusk identifies his customers as mid- to large-size grain farmers, those growers who are in the 2,000-to 5,000-acre range, which justifies their owning a self-propelled sprayer.
“Most of these customers are making multiple trips, from pre-plant to late-season fungicide applications,” he said. “The commercial customer would be the other spectrum. Here you have the local co-ops or an independent. Arnolds is contracted to sell the Miller product line to the commercial customer. For the grower market, we sell both the Case and Miller lines. What we sell them simply comes down to their needs and expectations for their business.”
Like most people involved in agriculture in any way today, Lusk said he has met challenges in his work along the way.
“The biggest challenge we face on a daily basis is simply staying one step ahead of the competition,” he said. “The past few years have faced all of us with a soft or somewhat flat agricultural market. The markets have cautioned the buyers and made it a challenge to continue to find new business. As a company, Arnolds has been fortunate and has found growth, while others have struggled in such a demanding industry.”
In a conversation with the owner of Arnolds Inc. recently, Lusk said, John Arnold told him the success of his company has to be credited to its diversity of different product lines.
“It is that same diversity that we look for in our customers when expanding our marketplace,” Lusk said.
What has also helped Lusk personally meet the difficult challenges in the present day ag industry is his passion and love for what he does.
“I enjoy being a part of the customer’s buying decision,” he said. “I have always been driven to find that new customer — that next cold call and that next new relationship that may pay off in the future for both of us.”
In his spare time, Lusk still enjoys music. He started playing in weekend bands at the age of 12 and just recently retired from that. In his spare time now, he and Darcy spend time camping, attending various concerts and attending sprint car racing events.
Lusk said his favorite time of the year is fall, adding he enjoys the traditional deer camp hunting weekends and spending time with family and friends.
The Lusks have four children and three grandkids.
 
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Valley View Farm

On the side of a hill west of Chandler sits Valley View Farm, a farm site that has been in the Kreun family for over 100 years.
Bruce Kreun, 70, said his grandparents Carl and Gertrude Kreun bought the property in 1917, constructed the buildings and moved to the farm in 1918. Gertrude was an immigrant from the Netherlands, Carl the son of immigrants from the Netherlands, born in northwest Iowa.
Drawn by cheap land and opportunity, their families settled in Crookston in northwest Minnesota. Carl and Gertrude met, married and had three children there before they moved to the farm west of Chandler where they had relatives nearby.
“It was lonely up there,” Kreun said. “They didn’t know a lot of people.”
Kreun said his grandparents bought the property from the railroad and it was one of the last properties sold in the area due to the rough and hilly land.
They built the house, the barn and a chicken house at the farm site and raised dairy, hogs, sheep and chickens. They also grew corn, hay and likely oats, primarily to feed their livestock, Kreun said. Of the original structures, the barn remains and so does the house. The house has been added to and remodeled over the last century, but the barn remains largely the same.
“The barn is looking pretty tough,” said Verla.
Kreun said the barn is obsolete and not worth repairing, but that he plans to keep it standing as long as he owns the property.
“If I tore it down or burned it down I’d be thrown out of the family,” he said.
Carl and Gertrude had 11 more children after moving to the farm, 14 in all. It was one of their children who named the property Valley View Farm.
Kreun said his aunt Johanna, Carl and Gertrude’s oldest daughter, decided when she was about 17 that the farm needed a name. She and some of her sisters cut out the letters and painted the name on the barn. That was about 80 or 90 years ago, Kreun said.
“It has stayed ever since that,” he said. “It’s been painted a number of times through the years, but those letters still are up there.”
Verla said that when family members visit they always have their photo taken in front of the barn with the words Valley View Farm in the background.
Carl died of esophageal cancer in the early 1940s and Gertrude remained at the farm with their children. Kreun said some of their older sons continued the farming operation. Gertrude eventually moved to Chandler and their oldest son Brant, Kreun’s uncle, moved to the farm.
Brant rented the property until Gertrude died in 1973 and then bought it from the estate. Kreun said Brant raised dairy cows, hogs and sheep. He and his wife had four boys while living at the farm.
In 1983 Brant and his wife retired and moved to Chandler and Kreun bought the building site and a 130-acre portion of the land. His uncle Brant kept a quarter-section of the land until he died at which time a neighbor bought it.
Kreun raised sheep at the farm until five or six years ago and rented out the farmland. He had over 150 sheep at one time and typically about 75 or 80, with fewer of them toward the end. He also worked in town at the State Bank in Chandler and then the accounting department of what is now Monogram Foods until he retired about five years ago.
The Kreuns said they’ve thought about moving to town, but they plan to stay at the farm as long as they’re in good health.
“There is some real sentimental attachment,” Kreun said. “We enjoy living here. We love the scenery we have, we like our privacy, we love looking at the wildlife.”