Farm Progress

Minnesota Corn Growers' Membership Is the Largest in the U.S.

New president Albin seeks to strengthen crop research, consumer education.

Paula Mohr, Editor, The Farmer

November 9, 2008

4 Min Read

Doug Albin, new president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, recently assumed leadership of the organization.

Albin, a cash crop farmer from Clarkfield, will serve a one year term as president. Albin has been an MCGA member for 28 years and served on the state board for most of the past decade. He and his wife Lois farm 1,200 acres and raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.

The Farmer contacted Albin and asked him several questions. This is a continuation of our interview. The first part of the story is featured in the November issue.

TF: What is the MCGA membership and has it stayed the same, gone up or gone down over the last few years? Why?
Albin: MCGA membership currently stands at more than 6,200, making our organization the largest state corn grower membership association in the country. We're encouraged to see that, even as the total number of corn farmers in Minnesota declines a bit, our membership numbers continue to increase. That tells me that Minnesota's corn producers are keenly aware that it's important to stick together and speak as one voice when it comes to creating public policy and educating the non-farming public.

TF: Is MCGA active in the new NCGA ag sustainability program? If so, how?
Albin: MCGA has always believed that it's imperative to observe best management practices while continuing to work to achieve increased yields. As the world's population continues to increase, we must strive to meet the increased demand, but we can't do that at the expense of the environment. We're supportive of research and development that furthers those goals by funding a variety of research projects designed to increase yield while minimizing environmental impact.

TF: When a consumer criticizes the use of corn for energy rather than for food, how do you respond?
Albin: First, I listen to hear where they are coming from. Have they heard negative advertising prompted by the oil and food companies? When I explain that we produce more corn than we can consume, that ethanol lowers their gas price by about 35 cents per gallon, even though they don't use E-85, and that the cost of transporting the food to them is the real culprit, they nod their head in agreement.
Oil companies seem to be untouchable while corn farmers are in consumers' backyards so they vent on those closest to them. The price rise in corn also helps farmers in foreign countries so that they can buy better seed and fertilizer to grow a better crop to feed themselves and their neighbors. Above all, we provide a safe, affordable and ready supply of food and have leftovers for fuel.

TF: What tillage practices do you follow on your farm? If they are sustainable/conservation practices, how have they improved the soil, minimized runoff, ensured clean water?
Albin: We use a four crop rotation: three years of alfalfa followed by two years of corn, one year of beans, then one year of wheat. This gives us a chance to break up the crop pest cycle, and improve soil tilth and fertility. We have adopted GMO crops because they allow us to substantially reduce pesticide use and produce a higher quality product. We live on Spring Creek in Yellow Medicine County and enjoy hunting and fishing. The use of best management practices combined with CRP and filter strips has had a positive impact on wildlife.
As we research and study how ecosystems are interconnected, we're becoming better at finding a balance between the two and figuring out how things can coexist and be mutually beneficial. Farmers will seek always to minimize inputs while maximizing production. It's the right thing to do, both for the environment and for the hungry people in the world. Minnesota farmers use less fertilizer per bushel produced now than at any time in history and we just keep on getting better.

TF: What do you hope to accomplish during your term as president?
Albin: I hope to increase our membership to make our voice in St. Paul and Washington even stronger; increase the non-farming public's understanding of the value of agriculture; and make the cooperation among Minnesota agricultural groups, which is already good, even stronger and more effective; and increase MCGA's support of research to help our growers in the field today and to do better tomorrow. It's easy to be critical, but we need to come up with a better plan. Research takes time and money, and we have to prioritize which projects will be the most effective and beneficial to our producers and to our nation.

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Mohr is former editor of The Farmer.

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