Morrison County producers showcased during State Cattlemen’s Association Summer Tour

Mississippi Valley Cattlemen’s Association to play host

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
[email protected]

After two years of hard work, the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association (MSCA) 2012 summer tour is set to take place in Morrison County Tuesday, July 10.

The state tour will showcase Morrison County producers — and the diversity of production found in the county.

Hosts of the tour are members of the Mississippi Valley Cattlemen’s Association (MVCA). The MVCA is made up of more than 100 producers in Morrison, Crow Wing and Todd counties.

Morrison County, however, has the highest ranking of the three, placing third in the state in production, third in beef cattle, dairy and poultry and 15th in total agriculture.

Crow Wing County, north of Morrison, ranks 20th in the state for total beef production and 65th in total livestock production.

Todd County, to the west of Morrison, ranks eighth in dairy, fifth in beef cattle and 10th in poultry. Livestock farming is Todd County’s number one private employer.

The Morrison County Fairgrounds in Little Falls will be the headquarters for the 2012 tour. The day will begin with registration at 6:15 a.m., before the full day of touring begins about 7 a.m.

Buses will take attendees to the various tour sites. The tours are staggered so everyone doesn’t end up at the same facility at the same time.

Mid-day everyone will meet back at the Fairgrounds for a roast beef lunch, before heading out again.

Dinner will also be served at the Fairgrounds, starting at about 5:15 p.m., when, what else, but grilled steak will be on the menu.

The tour stops include:

Smude Sunflower Oil in Pierz. Tom and Jennifer Smude bottle oil from sunflowers grown locally, in addition to running a 400 – 500 head feed lot.

Hanneken Angus in the Royalton/Buckman area. Ralph and Carla Hanneken operate one of the most progressive and successful Angus herds in Minnesota.

HB Farms in Sobieski. The John, Greg and Bennie Holtz families raise purebred Charolais, in addition to running a modern dairy heifer operation.

DLCC Ranch in the Pierz/Hillman area. Dar, Lynn, Lane and Leah Geiss have some of the best South Devon cattle, with genetics spread out across the world.

Virnig Farm in Pierz. Mark and Kevin Virnig installed state-of-the-art robotic milkers to save on labor costs.

Vince Waldoch farm, east of Little Falls, near Freedhem. The Waldochs have a cow-calf operation.

Rolling Thunder Ranch in Hillman. Sam Scott and his family run a custom grazing area.

Camp Ripley in Little Falls. Camp Ripley is the National Guard military base and is home to the Minnesota Military Museum.

Darv Keehr, president of the MVCA said that while Camp Ripley obviously isn’t cattle-related, it’s a unique stop in the area.

“Last year the tour was held down by Worthington,” said Keehr, where all the tour stops were on feedlots. “Here, we just have a lot of diversity and different places on the tour,” he said.

Clint Kathrein, secretary of MVCA, said, “It’s time to show off our area. We’re trying to showcase that we’re pretty diversified in this part of the state.”

Kathrein noted something else unique to production in this area is that one or two of the family members still work on the farm.

“They work on the farm and they work away from the farm in this area,” he said. “Down south, there are pretty big crop farms, big feedlots. In this area, everybody works and has cattle on the side. In this area, a lot of dairy farms are 100 – 200 acre farms, and they kind of got passed down from generation to generation. On a 200 acre farm, it’s kind of hard to make a living.”

Keehr said the tour had never featured a robotic milking system, such as the Virnigs have.

“Two years ago when we toured by Morris, there was an 80-cow carousel, but we’ve never seen robots. It’s something different for the tour,” he said.

Tour sponsors and vendors will be set up at the Fairgrounds; some will be available at the tour stops, said Keehr.

Kathrein said the pre-tour looked pretty impressive. “Even those not involved in agriculture will enoy it. There are some pretty neat things to see,” he said.

The cost for the tour and meals is $25 if registration is sent to Kathrein by Friday, July 6. His address is Clint Kathrein, 11865 195th St., Little Falls, MN 56345. Checks must be payable to MVCA.

Those who preregister will have a packet available for them the day of the tours at the registration booth in the 4-H exhibit building at the Fairgrounds.

For more information, people can call Keehr at (320) 745-2431, Kathrein at (320) 232-7336, visit the MSCA Web site at or e-mail [email protected]