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Ehrhardt of Albert Lea Seed recognized by Organic Trade Association

Minnesota Minute: Organic leaders honored; Allerson to receive Science in Practice Award; West Central Ag signs letter of intent to join CHS.

May 31, 2024

5 Min Read
Mac Ehrhardt mug
Mac Ehrhardt, chairman of Albert Lea Seed, was recently honored with the Organic Groundbreaker Leadership Award from the Organic Trade Association.Kevin Schulz

Mac Ehrhardt, chairman of Albert Lea Seed, is one of six individuals recognized by the Organic Trade Association. The trade association honored these men and women with its 2024 Organic Leadership Awards at a reception May 14, the opening day of Organic Week in Washington, D.C.

Ehrhardt receives the Organic Groundbreaker Leadership Award, which honors trade association members who have dedicated their careers to advancing organic agriculture and trade by providing vision, innovative creations and solutions, and the work and leadership that makes dreams a reality. Inspired by his family’s love of nature, Ehrhardt is chairman of Albert Lea Seed. Founded in 1923 by Lou Ehrhardt, the Minnesota-based organic field seed supplier has been owned and operated by the Ehrhardt family for three generations, earning its first USDA organic certification in 1996. In 2022, the company purchased Blue River Organic Seed, to form a strong lineup of organic field seed. In 2023, Ehrhardt spearheaded another initiative aimed at serving organic farmers by investing in an independent corn breeding program focused on the needs of organic farms.

“I believe that the demand for organically raised food will continue to grow,” Ehrhardt says. “But we must actively work to encourage that growth by strengthening consumer confidence in the organic label, addressing the issue of gene editing from both a scientific and a consumer perspective, and reducing the carbon footprint of organic farming practices.”

Others recognized by the OTA and their particular award are George Siemon of Organic Valley, Organic Lifetime Achievement; Jenny Lester Moffitt of the USDA, Organic Champion; Larry Santos of Taylor Farming, Organic Farmer of the Year; Renaud des Rosiers of Amy’s Kitchen, Organic Climate Action; Jyoti Stephens of Nature’s Path, Social Impact.

OTA’s leadership awards were established in 1997. Since then, OTA annually recognizes a group of exceptional individuals who have been nominated by their peers and chosen unanimously by the association’s board of directors.

Swine veterinarian to receive Science in Practice Award

Matt Allerson of Holden Farms, based at Northfield, will receive the 2024 Science in Practice award at the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference in September. The annual award recognizes swine practitioners who use science to solve critical health and production problems for pork producers.

University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine - Matt Allerson of Holden Farms

As a veterinarian at Holden Farms, Allerson leads a team of veterinarians for one of the nation’s largest family-owned swine production systems. He is internationally renowned for his expertise in disease control, health and production. Allerson’s skills as a teacher, mentor and leader also are well-respected.

“I am fortunate to work for a company that supports field research and understands the value research brings to a company,” Allerson says. “Together, we can answer questions that are specific to Holden Farms’ system and pig health.” His team uses multiple tools to discover solutions, including health improvement plans, biosecurity principles and disease elimination plans that have been backed by both experimental and field-based research.

Allerson says use of scientific principles is critically important. “You have to identify and remove outside or confounding variables that may impact your results. A small difference in performance can have huge economic consequences.”

His passion for science, working with livestock and summarizing data, led him to a career and several advanced degrees in veterinary medicine. “These experiences have helped me remove feelings and opinions when trying to answer animal health- and performance-related questions. Instead, we take our feelings and emotions and turn them into research questions.”

“Matt is known and respected for his focus on scientific excellence, his collaboration, and for his leadership,” says Montse Torremorell, DVM, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Allerson earned his DVM in 2009, his master’s in public health in 2010, and a doctorate in 2013 — all from the University of Minnesota. As a student and practicing veterinarian, Allerson has authored or coauthored 20 peer-reviewed publications and nearly 30 abstracts and articles in conference proceedings. In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Allerson’s proudest moments are with his wife, Jenna, and watching his family — Owen, August and Adeline — grow and spend time together.

Allerson will receive his award Sept. 23 at the annual Leman Swine Conference in St. Paul, Minn. The conference is the industry’s premier health and production management conference.

CHS, West Central Ag Services sign nonbinding letter of intent

CHS and West Central Ag Services, a cooperative based in Ulen, Minn., have signed a nonbinding letter of intent for West Central Ag Services to join CHS to better serve owners and customers and position the cooperative system for future growth.

“Our two cooperatives are aligned in our vision to advance the cooperative system and best serve our owners by connecting our producers to the global marketplace,” says Duane Brendemuhl, West Central Ag Services board president and chair. “This proposed transaction provides an opportunity to bring more value to our farmer owners and compete more effectively with other local ag companies while positioning us for the future success of a combined cooperative through efficient, globally connected supply chains.”

The proposed transaction with West Central Ag Services aligns with strategic investments for CHS to grow the global agricultural supply chain while providing end-to-end value and enhanced market access for the cooperative system.

“CHS and West Central Ag Services have a longstanding, strong relationship based on mutual trust and respect, as evidenced by our joint venture Central Plains Ag Services” says Rick Dusek, executive vice president of ag retail, distribution and transportation at CHS. “Better connecting the global agriculture supply chain and investing in the speed and space of our assets provides better market access and creates more value for farmer owners,” he says.

CHS and West Central Ag Services will now begin due diligence on the proposed transaction, which is subject to necessary approvals.

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