Executive director of county’s Farm Services Agency about to retire

By Eric Beuning, Correspondent

County Farm Services Agency Executive Director Darrell Larsen is organizing his desk, preparing for retirement.
County Farm Services Agency Executive Director Darrell Larsen is organizing his desk, preparing for retirement.

Darrell Larsen’s roots in Morrison County, the military and the agricultural industry run deep.

After serving in the Army artillery in the Vietnam War in the Northern I Corps from July 1968 to July 1969, he attended the University of Minnesota in Crookston.

Larsen continued his military career with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. He retired from military service after 27 years as a lieutenant colonel.

Larsen started his first job after college as a field representative for the Minnesota Farmers Union.

He later served as director of field services until he return to his home farm in 1980. At that point he continued to work part-time with the Minnesota Farmers Union as the director of cooperative services.

When his position was phased out in the mid-1980s, he became the president of the Morrison County Farmers Union and vice president of the Minnesota Farmers Union.

In 1992, he started his new career with the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service as part of the Farm Service Agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). By 1995, he had completed the county operations training program and served as county executive director for all of Hubbard County.

Larsen served Hubbard County until 1997, when he was selected for his current position as the county executive director for the Morrison County Farm Service Agency. During his 17 year service as county executive director, he was twice called upon to take the role of shared management county executive director for the Todd County Farm Service Agency.

“One of my major responsibilities is implementing the farm programs,” Larsen said. “Over the years the farm programs have gotten more and more complex with each new Farm Bill.

“There have been periods of ups and downs, especially when we first start implementing a new Farm Bill,” Larsen said. “The program technicians are the people that are most effected in this office. We’ve been really steady recently.

“Farm programs change with each Farm Bill,” Larsen noted. “For example our previous program was DCP/Acre, now we are on ARC/PLC, which stands for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Production Loss Coverage. Those are examples of safety net programs we administer along with Dairy Margin Protection Program and Livestock Disaster Programs.

Larsen said he is proud of the service provided to producers.

“I love that we’ve received so many positive comments,” Larsen said. “I think what I’m going to miss most are the people I get to interact with every day, staff as well as Morrison County producers.”

Larsen will officially retire Dec. 31. He and his wife, Arlene, plan to spend more time with their three grown daughters and their ten grandchildren.

Retirement will also give him time to enjoy his outdoor activities and tend their small family farm which includes raising horses and beef cattle.

“I also plan to spend more time harness driving horses and working with classic tractors,” he said.

There will be a public open house at the USDA service center in Little Falls, from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 30, for people who want to bid Larsen a fond farewell.

After that time, the Morrison County Farm Service Agency will be in shared management with Jay Backowski, who is the current county executive director for Todd County. Backowski will serve a dual role until the Morrison County position can be filled.

The state will eventually provide a list of candidates that the County Committee can choose from.

“I just wanted to say how much I have always appreciated the support and good working relationships I’ve had with the people and producers in Morrison County. I am really going to miss the personal interaction,” Larsen said.