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Corn+Soybean Digest

A Nose For Ag News

Although “educator” is no longer part of Kent Thiesse's job title, he continues to inform farmers and the ag industry on a variety of ag issues.

As of September last year, Thiesse took early retirement from his job as a University of Minnesota Extension educator in south central Minnesota. Known for his strong financial management expertise and government farm program background over his 28-year career, Thiesse has combined the two into a new venture.

He's vice president and an ag loan officer at a Lake Crystal, MN, bank. And he's the editor of a newsletter offering an interesting meld of ag news, analysis and advice.

“One of the things I have always enjoyed providing is timely information on a variety of ag issues,” says Thiesse as he thinks back on his former career. “One of my areas of expertise was analyzing government farm programs and following those types of issues. And I'm continuing to do that. MinnStar Bank has been very supportive of it.”

“It” is Thiesse's weekly newsletter, called “Focus On Agriculture.”

Usually 1½ pages, the newsletter offers a win-win situation, says Thiesse. “As well as providing good information to farm operators and others interested in agriculture, it helps keep me up to date on issues for the customers I work with.”

Thiesse is adjusting to wearing suits and ties and learning the ins and outs of banking. But the bank gives him time to provide its customers and the community with “a better, unbiased understanding of ag issues.” He e-mails his news to various media contacts he's known through his Extension tenure. A number of them use his analyses and information in their local papers, on radio broadcasts and on the Internet.

“Hopefully, I'm offering a common person's explanation of some of the difficult issues and breaking them down to what some of the key points are,” he says.

For instance, in one November newsletter, Thiesse gave details about a “confusing” November Non-StarLink corn settlement letter sent to growers applying for payment. In another, he outlined a partial counter-cyclical payment for 2003 corn, offered comments on the weather and gave harvest updates.

At this point, the newsletter is a free service. It's another example of how growers obtain their information these days, he says.

“If you follow different parts of the ag industry, whether it's in ag lending or in crop seed sales, public relations has become more and more a part of providing information,” he says. “As resources get tighter and tighter for the Extension Service and land grant universities, information comes less and less from public universities and more and more from private sources.”

The Internet and technology have “greatly changed” the way information is provided, he adds. Yet he feels growers need professionals to help sort through that information.

“A lot of producers probably don't have the time to sit down and do that.” He's hoping his newsletter, using the experience, knowledge and many contacts he made while an Extension educator, will help.

To access Thiesse's newsletter, visit

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