Agriculture

in Houston County, Minn.

Agriculture forms the backbone of our county. The Houston County EDA provides support for our local farmers and ag businesses.


Helping farmers in Houston County

Have you ever wondered how to get grant funding for your farm? Are you interested in hearing from producers who have successfully marketed their products directly to consumers? Are you considering starting a business but need some legal help? The “Growing Stronger Together” FREE webinar series is a new initiative in partnership with Houston County EDA and CEDA’s Harvest Entrepreneur Network program. The series aims to provide practical information for farmers throughout the state of Minnesota and beyond. We know farmers are very busy and we hope this series will be able to provide actionable insights to help grow their businesses. 
 

Friday, July 17 from 10-11am
Ask a Lawyer: Navigating the Legal Structure of Your Business with Rachel Armstrong, founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons  
Setting up the right business structure for your farm or business can seem daunting. The truth is that it’s quite straightforward and we’ll show you how! We will walk through the options and decision-making factors, recognizing that each owner will make the decision that works for them. Stick around for the checklist of steps to make sure the benefits of an LLC or corporation are there for you when you need them. Wondering what an operating agreement is for? That’s on the agenda, too. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Farming in Tough Times with Emily Krekelberg of the University of MN Extension
With low commodity prices, high debt loads, and challenging weather in recent years, farmers are experiencing a high amount of stress. In this session, Emily reviews the nature of farm stress, discusses how to identify stress, provide strategies for communicating with stressed individuals, and review available resources. This session is for anyone who has ever thought, “I should say something, but I wouldn’t know what to say.” See the recorded session here.
 
Direct Marketing for Farmers with Lisa Klein, of Hidden Stream Farm and Dover Processing, Sara George of D & S Gardens and Market Manager for Red Wing, and Wabasha Farmers’ Market, and Rachelle Meyer of Wholesome Family Farms
This event featured several farmers who have successfully marketed their products directly to consumers, as well as other channels such as restaurants, groceries/co-ops, and other wholesalers. Panelists shared what has worked and what hasn’t, and how their marketing strategies have changed over time. Watch the recorded webinar here
 

Grant Money for Farmers: How to Maximize Funding to Grow Your Business with Kristine Jepson, farm business owner, grant proposal writer, and SBDC consultant
Participants learned about grant programs available to farms and how to identify products and projects within their business that may be eligible for funding. Topics included common application requirements, deadlines, and best practices. Watch the recorded webinar here

Farmers Get Creative During Pandemic with Megan Roberts of the University of MN Extension and Ryan Brixius of the US Department of Agriculture 
A conversation about the current state of agriculture during a global health crisis, learn about resources to offset any negative impact, and dream about creative solutions for the future. Watch the recorded webinar here

 
These workshops are free thanks to the generous support of the MN Dept of Employment and Economic Development, the Southern MN Initiative Foundation, and Merchant’s Bank.

 

The Houston County Economic Development Authority is collaborating with the University of Minnesota Extension and with Workforce Development Inc. in an effort to help local farmers who are looking to try something new either on or off their farms.

Many resources are already available to our local agricultural producers. The EDA is researching market opportunities for non-traditional agricultural products. The EDA can also assist in submitting grants for special on-farm projects and has a revolving loan fund for gap financing qualifying projects.

Workforce Development Inc. can help farmers who are interested look for either full time or part time work off the farm. They help with things such as writing a resume, finding available jobs, training, and interviews. They also coordinate with businesses seeking temporary help who may be able to schedule work hours around a producers on-farm duties.

University of Minnesota Extension is a free source of education on agricultural production with topics ranging from traditional practices to new value-added opportunities. In addition, Extension is currently providing free, confidential farm financial counseling across the state.

If you know of a farmer who is struggling or who would like additional help in trying something new either on or off their farm please encourage them to reach out to the Houston County EDA.

Minnesota Public Radio interviewed local farmer Mary Lou Graf along with EDA Director Allison Wagner on part of the County’s farming initiative. Find the MPR news story here.

.Our goal is to get to know our farmers, develop plans based on their individual interests and needs, and help them adapt so that they can be successful.

Needing additional loan options? Looking for options to transition your ag business to a more sustainable model? We welcome all inquiries!
For more information, please contact EDA Director Allison Wagner at eda@co.houston.mn.us or (507) 725-5836.


Local ag business spotlights

A selection of agrictultural businesses and farmers in Houston County.

Heintz Badger Valley Farm,
Caledonia

Dairy farmer Doug Heintz manages over 400 acres of cropland, 170 dairy cows, and three robotic milkers.

Welke Family Farm,
Hokah

Jerry and Cindy Welke of Hokah were named 2015 Outstanding Conservationists of the Year. 

Sno Pac Foods,
Caledonia

Long-standing organic frozen food company farms 3,000 acres locally, and contracts over 1,500 more.

Hendel Farms,
Caledonia

Matt Hendel of Hendel Farms near Caledonia is a third generation dairy farmer.


Exploring Non-traditional Ag Options

A few local ag businesses are exploring ways to diversify, expand, or transition their businesses and farms to more sustainable models.

Hoch Orchards,
La Crescent

In 2016, Hoch Orchards received a $15K state grant to integrate animals into its orchard system.

Nettle Valley Farm,
Spring Grove

Nettle Valley Farm raises pastured pigs, and has begun an Incubator Farm Program.

Rockfilter Distillery,
Spring Grove

Looking to cure the solitude of farming life, Christian Myrah began distilling his crops into whiskey.

Sweet 16 Farm,
Houston

Local farm explores agro-tourism business options: hop yard and flowers.

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