Dakota Farmer

Not many people started farming from scratch, without any help from family or business partners, but Ernest Krabbenhoft, of Argusville, N.D., did.

December 24, 2012

3 Min Read

Ernest Krabbenhoft, another of our four Master Farmers of 2012, had some good advice on how to success for his daughter: “Invest in yourself.”

“His idea was that you can’t control stock markets or commodities markets or the weather, but you can put your trust and money in yourself, as that is about the only thing you can control,” says Jayne Krabbenhoft, who operates her own farm. “I think it was this sort of thinking that brought our family’s farm successfully through notoriously bad times in the 1980s and so forth. He paid attention tirelessly to his accounts, his land, his crops, his equipment and was continuously making improvements.”


Krabbenhofte grew up on farm near Sabin, Minn., went to the ag college in Crookston, Minn., and then joined the Air National Guard and worked as a brand inspector in North Dakota. With savings from those jobs he and his wife, Bette, bought their first farmstead in 1966 near Argusville, N.D., and began renting land. They gradually developed a diversified grain farm and seed business and grew wheat, barley, oats, sunflowers and edible beans. They were among early American Crystal sugarbeet growers. They also raised quarter horses and beef cattle. Krabbenhoft competed in rodeo events and is one of the trustees of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

“I’m a cowboy at heart,” says Krabbenhoft, 72, whose standard farming attire includes a Stetson, cowboy boots and big belt buckle.

He says he and Bette succeeded by working hard and doing without a lot of things when they were starting out. When they had a good crop, their first priority was to reduce their debt. They supported their neighbors and community, which turned into opportunities to rent and buy land as it became available.

Their farm -- Valle Grain Farms -- is considered a showplace in eastern North Dakota. A soaring ranch entrance sign makes the farmstead stand out in the flat fields of grain. A long concrete driveway curves past the shelterbelt, garden, flower beds and a restored horse barn, machinery storage shed and shop.

“We always prettied things up,” Krabbenoft says, with a rare display of pride.

Neighbor Larry Wieers says Krabbenhoft is one of his mentors.

“He works very hard and he pays attention to details,” says Wieers, who raises soybeans and wheat near Argusville. “You can see by his fields, his farmstead and his equipment that he is a perfectionist. He has been a great inspiration.”

Nominate someone you know

Master Farmer is one of the oldest farmer recognition programs in the U.S. It recognizes active producers -- men and women -- for their achievements in farming or ranching and for their contributions to their community, state and/or industry.

It’s easy to nominate someone for Master Farmer recognition. Just email your nomination to me and tell me why you think the person deserves to be recognized. My email is [email protected]

Read about the other 2012 Master Farmers.

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