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U of M recognizes farm families of year

MINNEAPOLIS -- Seventy-three families from around the state, one from each participating county, have been named a "2010 Farm Family of the Year" by the University of Minnesota.

The families will be officially recognized Aug. 5 at Farmfest near Redwood Falls.

"Almost all Minnesota farms are family farms," said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. "These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities. The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contribution to agriculture and their communities."

The diversity of Minnesota family farms can be seen by looking at a sample of the 2010 honorees:

John and Leila Arndt of Kandiyohi County: John and Leila purchased their Willmar area farm in 1972. The farm began as a beef cow operation, but is now a 200-acre farm and bison ranch. Besides 300 head of bison, they raise oats, corn and soybeans. The farm has a selection of different cuts of bison for sale, and they are involved with the Farm to School program and many other organizations.

Kramer Farms of Renville County: Eugene Kramer was born into a family of 12 children. Eugene, the oldest, and Mike, the youngest, decided they would start farming together. As Eugene and his wife, Carol, began growing a family, their five boys also began farming with Eugene and Mike. They raise corn, soybeans, sugar beets, kidney beans, sweet corn and peas.

Tom and Lisa Walsh family of Swift County: In 1992, Tom Walsh took over the family farm his parents had been running for 50 years. His farm started with feed cattle, a cow/calf operation and some crops. Eight years later, he and his brother, with some partners from Morris, built a 2,000-cow dairy. They have since built another dairy. Today, Tom is the managing partner in the dairy operations. In addition, he raises corn and alfalfa and has a small beef cow herd.

Other area families who will be honored include the Schultz-Schaefer family farm in Chippewa County, the Buer family at Prairie Gold Farm in Meeker County, the Kvam family in Yellow Medicine County and the Maanum family in Pope County.

Farmfest runs Aug. 3-5 at the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls. Event hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 3 and 4, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 5. Admission is $10 and free for 18 and under.