Cities, producers need to reach out to each other
WILLMAR -- Agriculture, specifically animal agriculture, in Minnesota is a huge economic engine that creates economic activity in many sectors of the economy, according to Rob Sip, principal planner for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Si...
WILLMAR -- Agriculture, specifically animal agriculture, in Minnesota is a huge economic engine that creates economic activity in many sectors of the economy, according to Rob Sip, principal planner for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Sip was the featured speaker Wednesday for the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce agribusiness committee meeting. He encouraged chamber members and livestock producers to reach across the fence and support each other.
"We are encouraging livestock producers to get involved with their chamber," he said. "We also encourage chambers to reach out and get involved in the ag community."
According to department figures from 1999, agriculture is a $201 million business in Kandiyohi County.
Poultry processing is a $150 million business. The county is the second largest livestock producer and the leading turkey producer in the state. The direct and indirect impact of livestock production and processing in the county is $470 million annually.
Statewide, the direct economic impact of agriculture, both crops and livestock, was $5.2 billion in 2003. The value added to crops was $2 billion, with one in three bushels of corn and one in four bushels of soybeans used for livestock feed. The value added by livestock processing is $3.2 billion.
The Willmar chamber, specifically the agribusiness committee, has set goals to promote agriculture with numerous events and activities. The chamber also has a good number of livestock and agribusiness members. Sip commended the chamber for those achievements.
Feedlot zoning hearings are a good time for chamber officials and members to get involved with agriculture and support the positive economic impact of livestock on the local area, he said.
"Rural communities and livestock producers need each other," Sip said, noting that in Winona, chamber president Della Schmidt goes to meetings and speaks on behalf of livestock producers who are seeking to site or expand their facilities.
The department also awards its Good Neighbor award monthly to a livestock producer. Nominations are encouraged. "This is another opportunity for the local chamber to get involved," Sip said.
The local chamber is always seeking new ways to promote agriculture, according to Ken Warner, executive director.
One of the promotions is sponsoring an annual field trip for 350 fifth-grade students from Willmar, New London-Spicer and Community Christian School to visit an area farm.
"The kids love that," he said. "Some of the kids have never been to the farm."