Area farm families to be honored at Farmfest

University of Minnesota salutes 2019 Farm Families of the Year

The skies were clear for the second day of Minnesota Farmfest. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service
The skies were clear for the second day of Minnesota Farmfest. Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — Seven area farm families are among 84 families from throughout Minnesota to be honored next week as 2019 Farm Family of the Year at the annual Minnesota Farmfest.

The recognition is being made by the University of Minnesota. The award ceremony begins at 1:10 p.m. Thursday in the Wick Buildings Farmfest Center on the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls.

Farmfest is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 6 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 7 and 8.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, who began her new duties at the University July 1, will open the program in her first visit to Farmfest.


One family per county was selected by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture.

“The University of Minnesota takes pride in honoring these families. The farm families receiving this year's honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong,” said Extension Dean Bev Durgan.

“They bring innovation, science and hard work to farming. They care greatly about the land and animals and delivering quality products to consumers worldwide,” she said.

Chippewa County – Lee Farms

Jerry and Ruth Ann Lee farm with their son, Jason, near Watson.

The Lees grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass on about 1,150 acres. Jason, along with his wife, Autumn, and their children run a commercial cattle herd along with registered Herefords dating back to Jason’s grandfather’s original herd. The family has a commercial sheep flock and a flock of registered Katahdin Hair sheep.

Kandiyohi County – Paulson Farms


The Paulson farm was established in 1939 when Arnold and Irene moved to Atwater in Kandiyohi County. They milked Shorthorn cows and raised Yorkshire pigs. In 1981, Arnold and Irene’s son, Rob, and his wife, Betty, took over the operation and continued to milk and raise pigs. In 2002, Rob and Betty’s son, Jeff, began running the farm. Today, Jeff and his wife, Tammie, milk a herd of shorthorns and farm 150 acres of hay, oats and corn.

Lac qui Parle County – Weber family

Rod, Pam and Rose Weber began full-time farming in the early 1980s. They farrowed pigs in their grandparents Walter and Helga Gollnick’s barn. The Webers sharecropped rented land from their grandmother, Lena Weber, and their parents, Roger and Rosalind. Rod, Pam and Rose raised cattle, hogs, sheep, corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa.

Today the Weber farm is a grain and cow-calf operation. They raise corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa and cover crops. The family, including Rod and his son Tyson, are transitioning some of their land to organic.

Meeker County – Steve and Shelley Kern

Steve’s parents, Jim and Eileen, started dairy farming in the early 1960s. Steve and Shelley took over in 1993. Currently, the Kerns raise dairy steers and grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and hay on their farm near Watkins.


Steve and Shelley are the owner/operators of the farm. The Kerns have hosted several farm tours in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Beef Council.

Renville County – Schroeder family

Dean and Marj Schroeder are both fourth-generation Renville County farmers. Their ancestors emigrated from Norway, Sweden, Germany and Bohemia in the mid-to-late 1800s settling in the Renville County townships of Flora, Sacred Heart, Osceola and Palmyra.

The Schroeders raise corn, soybeans and wheat using strip-till and no-till farming practices. They seed a variety of cover crops.

Swift County – Steve and Lisa Collins

Steve started farming with his parents in 1984 and Lisa joined the operation in 1996. They are the fourth-generation farmers in the Murdock area of Swift County raising many different types of livestock.

Steve and Lisa, along with their children, Morgan, Matthew and Marc, run a corn, soybean, alfalfa rotation on 1,750 acres in Swift and Chippewa counties.

Yellow Medicine County – Darrell and Dawn Regnier

Darrell started farming at age 16 when he rented his first 200 acres and purchased his first set of sows. In his early 20s, Darrell bought his first 240-acre farm and building site. He continued to operate his farrow-to-finish hog operation and added his first line of equipment. Darrell made farming his lifetime career raising cash crops, hogs and cattle and also did custom work for others and became an auctioneer with his father, Clem. The two operated Porter Livestock Auction, the Regnier Auction Service and the Canby Livestock Auction.

Today, the Darrell and Dawn Regnier family farm, which includes the next generation, produces corn, soybeans, small grains and alfalfa in combination with a beef cow/calf herd near Canby and the family still operates the Darrell Regnier Auction Company.

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