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Minnesota Farm Bureau elects new president

Kevin Paap, who has served as vice president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau since 1997, was elected president of the farm organization during its 87th annual convention Monday in Bloomington.

Paap, 45, and his wife, Julie, own and operate a fourth-generation corn and soybean farm in Blue Earth County. He will take over the position from longtime Minnesota Farm Bureau President Al Christopherson of rural Pennock. Christopherson did not seek re-election.

Christopherson, who operates a diversified crop and livestock farm in Kandiyohi County with his wife, Diane, has served in state leadership roles with the Farm Bureau for 30 years -- 17 of those as president.

"It's been an honor to represent the organization," said Christopherson in a telephone conference call with reporters Monday, shortly after Paap had been elected to succeed him. "It's been very enjoyable."

Christopherson, 64, said it won't be hard to find something to do with his spare time. He's still not done harvesting corn. He said he hoped to "get back in the combine" today and finish field work.

Christopherson said he intends to remain active in Farm Bureau, but said "we have changed leadership" and his role now is to "stay out of the way." He confessed that doing so would be a challenge. "There'll be times when I'll have to bite my tongue," he said, and play the role as a supporting Farm Bureau member and not the spokesman for Farm Bureau.

During the Minnesota Farm Bureau banquet this weekend, Christopherson was also given the organization's most prestigious award for outstanding leadership in agriculture.

Paap said he appreciated Christopherson's leadership, dedication, wisdom and "passion" that has "guided" Farm Bureau over the years.

"Your leadership will be missed," Paap told Christopherson during the telephone conference.

Paap said he intends to concentrate on the vision of Farm Bureau, "advocate for agriculture" and help generate pride in the country's "safe and abundant" food supply. He said the public needs to be told about the importance of agriculture and how food "gets from our fields to their forks."

Paap said the farm bill, taxes and use of eminent domain to obtain land for economic development will continue to be priority issues for Farm Bureau. He said the organization also needs to help the livestock industry grow in Minnesota through township, county and state involvement. Paap said the emerging ethanol and biodiesel industries rely on a strong livestock industry.

Resolutions approved by the delegates will present "no big policy shift" and will take Minnesota Farm Bureau "in the same direction, but maybe a little faster," said Paap.

Delegates also elected Paul Torkelson of St. James as the new vice president. David VanLoh of Westbrook, Paul Stark of Kensington, Mike Gunderson of Bejou and Greg Bartz of Sleepy Eye were all elected to the state board of directors.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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