WILLMAR -- Ted Huisinga and Ray Norling, leaders of Life-Science Innovations and Affiliates, were among the Minnesotans honored this past week with the University of Minnesota's 2013 Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture.
The awards were formally presented at a ceremony May 23 at the university's McNamara Alumni Center.
The annual Siehl awards recognize outstanding contributions to the production of food and alleviation of hunger. Awards are given in three categories: agribusiness, knowledge and production.
Huisinga and Norling won in the production category.
Both grew up in the family business, the Willmar Poultry Co., which they built into a multifaceted firm with 12 affiliated companies, all related to the turkey industry. Two of the affiliates purchased the former Willmar Regional Treatment Center and turned it into the MinnWest Technology Campus, an initiative to expand biotechnology, genetics, engineering and agriculture in west central Minnesota.
In addition to the technology campus, the organization includes Nova-Tech Engineering, PALS and Epitopix. It employs more than 1,500 people across the U.S. and does business on six continents.
Willmar Poultry was the first in the industry to use computerized environmental controls in hatching operations. Today its hatchery is one of the most productive in the United States, producing 45 million eggs and hatching 30 million poults annually.
Huisinga and Norling also are industry leaders in food safety and animal health.
Huisinga has more than 40 years of involvement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Poultry Improvement Plan and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, leading to the implementation of model disease prevention, surveillance and response programs. Norling has provided leadership for the businesses, most recently handling organizational matters for various subsidiaries.
Both Huisinga and Norling are past presidents of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. The National Turkey Federation recognized them in 2007 with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Siehl Prize is named for Eldon Siehl, a Minnesota businessman and philanthropist who wanted to educate the public about where their food comes from and to provide recognition for those who dedicate themselves to food production and research. The awards come with a $50,000 honorarium.
Other 2013 Siehl Prize laureates are Philip Minerich, vice president of research and development at Hormel Foods, and Yue Jin, a researcher on wheat and barley disease at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cereal Disease Lab at the University of Minnesota.