Jackson to become Fendt hub
Intivity Center to undergo rebrand as it transitions to new Fendt Lodge

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By Justin R. Lessman

AGCO’s Intivity Center in Jackson will undergo a major remodel as it transforms into the North American hub of the entire Fendt brand.
Opened in 2012 as the showpiece focal point of a 75,000-square-foot expansion at AGCO Jackson Operations, the Intivity Center will soon become the Fendt Lodge — a 16,000-square-foot customer center that Bill Hurley, vice president of American distribution for AGCO Corp., said will be the premier destination for Fendt North America customer visits, launch events, dealer meetings, factory tours and corporate gatherings.
“It will be the hub for the entire brand for all of North America,” Hurley said. “Jackson will be the North American home for Fendt.”
Work is under way at present, with completion expected by early next year. Amenities will include a hands-on history center, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, sweeping views of the factory’s assembly line and even a coffee bar and gift shop. Though the lodge will host frequent customer, dealer and corporate gatherings, it will also be open to the public for visitor tours.
Fendt’s Rogator applicator and track tractors, as well as other AGCO machinery, will continue to be manufactured in the Jackson factory.
“Fendt is intensely focused on customer experience excellence,” said Joe DiPietro, vice president of Fendt in North America. “The Fendt Lodge will provide an unparalleled opportunity for our customers, dealers and team members to come together, learn from each other and ensure that our solutions exceed their needs. It underscores Fendt’s strong commitment to North American farmers and the Jackson community itself, where Fendt machines roll off the line every day.”
Fendt has grown rapidly in North America in recent years, Hurley said, with dealership locations opening throughout the United States and Canada, swiftly increasing sales and strong brand affinity among farmers of all sizes and types. The brand offers a complete lineup of farming solutions, including tractors, planters, combines and applicators, that frequently win the industry’s top awards for innovation and engineering excellence.
“Fendt is the fastest-growing brand in North America,” Hurley said. “It’s known for its innovation in products.”
The opening of the new customer center in Jackson, therefore, is not only timely, DePietro said, but it also aligns perfectly with the brand’s “Grow Bold” theme.
“Fendt offers farming’s most innovative and impressive solutions, and the Fendt Lodge will provide visitors with the same experience,” he said. “We’re excited to welcome farmers home to the Fendt Lodge.”

Grain donations: how to make and receive them

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Sirrina Martinez
Multimedia reporter

For many people, giving back to the community typically takes the form of volunteer work or monetary donations. In the farming community, the practice of donating grain is a sometimes overlooked method of giving to nonprofit organizations. Through this approach, a producer will typically haul in a load of grain to their local elevator and drop off a number of bushels that are to be transferred to a nonprofit of their choosing.
According to Daryl Kanthak, a partner and owner of Meulebroeck, Taubert & Co. LLP, there are key steps and considerations for producers who are interested in donating portions of their harvest.
“There are a couple of things that have to be accomplish,” he said. “First of all, the ownership of the commodity needs to change hands before it’s sold. If the farmer wants to give, for example, 500 bushels of corn to the church, their should be an inventory ticket at the elevator where it’s changed into the church’s name before the grain is sold. Then an official at the church (or charity) needs to control the marketing of the grain.”
Marketing the grain, Kanthak said, simply means that the organization that now has ownership of the commodity is responsible for calling the elevator and letting them know they want to sell it.
“That is probably always done the same day,” he said. “The church is not going to get into the business of holding grain and playing the market. The farmer will contact the church or the charity and tell them ‘I am going to give you 500 bushels of corn’ and then someone at the church has to direct the sale of it. Then the check is made out directly to the church or charity.”
To receive the greatest tax benefit, Kanthak said, the producer should avoid selling the grain themselves and giving the money to the organization.
“What you want to make sure that you don’t do is just go to the elevator, sell 500 bushels of corn, they give you a check in your name and hand it to the church,” Kanthak said. “That would be income to the farmer. You’d still get the charitable donation but where the real tax savings come in is you don’t have to include those grain sales on your tax return.”
A donating producer receives an additional charitable contribution on top of their reported income if they sell the grain and cut a check to the charity, Kanthak said. However, there is an upside to simply donating the grain rather than going through the process of claiming that contribution.
“There are a couple of things,” he said. “First of all, you have to be able to itemize deductions in order to use that charitable donation. You have to have enough itemized deductions. If you don’t, then that donation is somewhat wasted on that tax return. By giving the grain away you are ensured of the deduction.”
Aside from the extra steps of totaling up itemized deductions, a producer has to meet a minimum standard deduction to see any benefit. For a married couple in 2023, the standard deduction that must be met is $27,700, Kanthak said.
“You can see that you need quite a bit in itemized deductions to reach that,” he said. “You either get the bigger of your itemized deductions or the standard deduction. All of your itemized deductions would have to add up to more than that. If you want to give $5,000 to the church for example, if you just give them a check you will probably not be able to itemize that. Whereas if you just give them the grain, you’re getting the deduction by not having to report that income.”
 Another important caveat to consider, Kanthak said, is the year that the grain was grown and harvested.
“The grain that the farmer gives away should be grain that was not raised in the current tax year,” he said. “It should be grain that was raised in a prior tax or calendar year. Technically with the IRS, if you give grain away that you raised in the current year, you are supposed to allocate your expenses for raising that grain proportionately. If you give grain away that you raised in a prior year, then you don’t have to do that.”
Kanthak estimates that roughly 20 to 30 of his clients donate grain each calendar year.
“I probably have a couple hundred farm clients, so there isn’t a real large percentage, but a lot of those that I talk to do it on a continuing basis,” he said.
Producers are free to give to any charitable foundation of their choosing, Kanthak said, as long as it is a charity or a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
According to Joel Wiering, the regional sales manager for CHS Inc. based out of Ruthton, the first step a charitable organization  must take in order to receive grain donations, is to have an account set up with the elevator of their choosing.
“The biggest thing is that they have to have an account set up at whatever elevator they are going to,” he said. “Without an account set up, the grain essentially stays under the producer’s name. If a farmer wants to donate I tell them ‘talk to the entity you are putting the grain under and have them reach out to the elevator to set up an account.’ Once it is set up it is pretty seamless. The farmer delivers on behalf of that account, and then the account owner is then in charge of marketing the grain.”
Setting up an account as a nonprofit organization is fairly simple, Weiring said, and the process may vary by elevator.
“Essentially the organization will call the bookkeeping or the clerical staff at the elevator and say ‘I’d like to set up an account,’” he said. “In the case of the elevator that I work for, we will send them some paperwork to fill out with information that we need. Typically we try to put what I call an owner to the account. Who I call if we know they have grain unpriced in the elevator that farmer Joe dropped off for them, who I call to get that grain priced out, and who’s going to manage that account and take that phone call.”
For tax purposes, the nonprofit will receive a 1099 on the donated grain, Weiring said. From there, they will work with their accountant to prepare their tax returns when the time comes. As far as how many organizations receive grain donations each year at CHS Inc., Weiring estimates that roughly 20 to 25 churches are currently active in his system, and his region covers all the way from Marshall down to northeast Nebraska.
One local nonprofit that is experiencing the benefit of grain donations is Southwest Minnesota Christian Schools in Edgerton. According to Randy Pfeifle, head of schools at the Edgerton facility, the organization receives grain donations for different things throughout the year, including their annual fall event, the Southwest Grain Drive.
“We often get random donations throughout the year,” he said. “In most cases it is for something specific that we have going on.”
Southwest Christian Schools has received grain donations for a number of fundraising efforts, Pfeifle said, including capital campaigns for building additions. As a private school, the organization is unable to pass bonds or referendums to raise necessary funding, which requires them to rely on donations from the community.
“Everything that we do within our school community is either based off of the tuition that the families pay or it’s based off of financial support through donations throughout the year,” he said. “For us, it’s a large sum that we do fund raise in a given year and we do rely on private donations for a lot of that. There a lot of those types of things, building drives and things like that, a lot of those things probably couldn’t happen without the support of our local farmers, the rest of our school community, and the businesses we have in our community and the surrounding area.”
With students attending the school from within a 45-mile radius of Edgerton, Southwest Christian holds multiple accounts at area elevators. The support that the school has received from local producers has been a blessing, Pfeifle said.
“Our supporters are tremendous within our school community and they have really blessed us in a lot of different ways,” he said. “For a lot of them giving a portion of their crop is an easy way to do that.”

Fall fertilizer planning imperative
Farmers urged to check online map prior to putting fall fertilizer plans into place

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Various tracts of land across southwestern Minnesota are under fall nitrogen fertilizer restrictions this year, and farmers are urged to check an updated online map of the restrictions prior to putting their fall fertilizer plans into place.
Under the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Groundwater Protection Rule, fall nitrogen fertilizer application is prohibited in vulnerable areas of Minnesota due to environmental concerns or risks. Areas with coarse-textured soils or areas above fractured bedrock or karst geology are the most vulnerable to nitrate loss and groundwater contamination.
Large areas of restricted tracts lie in Lincoln, Pipestone and Rock counties, as well as in southern Lyon, western Murray and Nobles and southwestern Cottonwood counties.
The largest restricted tracts are in Drinking Water Supply Management Areas in the Verdi, Holland, Edgerton, Balaton, Chandler and Ellsworth areas, along with one in the Ash Creek area of Rock County. A DWSMA Low Vulnerability Exemption Area is located in the Adrian area. And areas of fall restrictions dot other portions of the region.
The Groundwater Protection Rule applies to cropland acres. The restrictions begin Sept. 1 each year. Farmers are encouraged to check the online map prior to fall application to determine if their fields are subject to these restrictions. The map can be found on the MDA website.
In areas of the state where fall nitrogen fertilizer application is allowed, the MDA advises farmers and commercial applicators to check soil temperatures and wait for cooler conditions. MDA officials say research shows delaying fall application of anhydrous ammonia and urea fertilizer, as well as manure, until the average soil temperatures reach 50 degrees or cooler helps prevent nitrogen loss, protects water quality and ensures more nitrogen will be available for next season’s crop.
To assist tracking soil temperature, the MDA provides real-time, 6-inch soil temperatures at 25 locations across the state. In addition, the MDA provides links to soil temperature from the University of Minnesota research stations and the North Dakota Ag Weather Network weather stations.
Although the soil temperature network was established to support application of nitrogen fertilizer, it is equally useful for those applying manure in the fall. University of Minnesota Extension officials recommend the same temperature delay — 6-inch soil temperature below 50 degrees — to prevent leaching losses.


Streaming Swine Time: Pipestone Helping Farmers reaches pork producers through podcast

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Sirrina Martinez
Multimedia reporter

In this digital age, Pipestone Helping Farmers is working to reach pork producers in new ways, whether they are at home, in the field or in the barn. Their podcast titled Swine Time, first aired in the spring of 2019, and is hosted by Dr. Spencer Wayne, D.V.M., Ph.D. Recording takes places in a small popup studio that can be easily assembled and disassembled at the Pipestone Helping Farmers office, Wayne said, and new episodes are posted around once a month. The show can be streamed on all popular podcast listening platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Anchor. Additionally, it can be found on the organizations website, www.pipestone.com/swinetime-podcast/.
The podcast, Wayne said, was started in an effort to reach people in new ways.
“We were attempting to broaden the reach to our producers,” he said. “When I say producers I mean our shareholders and our clients. We communicate with them through other routes like newsletters and emails, but this is another way to reach out and connect to them. We also know that a lot of our shareholders and clients tend to listen to podcasts while they are in their tractors in spring and fall, and throughout the year, or while driving down the road. We thought this would be another great way to connect with them.”
The podcast covers a variety of topics, including industry news and research in areas such as antibiotics use, risk management, managing higher feed costs, the process and benefits of disease elimination, updates from pork packing plant leadership and other important information in the field. One of his favorite topic areas, Wayne said, involves research conducted at Pipestone Helping Farmers.
“We have been blessed with some great research people at Pipestone that have done some really neat things as far as trials to understand our products and genetics,” he said.
Topics are chosen based on timeliness, and guests are typically from within Pipestone Helping Farmers, although outside experts frequent the show from areas of academia, government agencies or local farmers. Topic suggestions and requests from listeners are always welcome, Wayne said, and subscribers are encouraged to email him or the marketing team from Pipestone Helping Farmers with questions they have or themes that they are interested in. Often, Wayne said, he will solicit opinions from people when he visits with them.
“My question is always ‘What do you want to hear about?’” he said. “I always listen to opinions from our listeners, and they can always reach out to someone within the [podcast] group.”
The podcast team has recorded 50-60 different episodes, with around 53 of those recordings having been published, Wayne said. For its 50th podcast, Wayne became the show’s interviewee, discussing his top three favorite topics from past shows.
“One of the topics was the importance of labor and how to fill your ranks out on the farm with good people,” he remarked. “We have worked a lot with the TN Visa program that allows individuals from Mexico to come up and work on the farms, and that has been a real blessing to us at the sow farm level, as well to our producers who were able to work with these employees on their own farms.”
Another of Wayne’s favorite topics involved research in areas such as risk of disease through feed, and methods to reduce that risk. His third favorite topic, Wayne said, focused on community interaction, where he interviewed professionals who have attended county, regional and state fairs, and allowed members of the public who have never seen pigs up-close, or are unfamiliar with the pork industry to ask questions and learn more.
“For example, at the Minnesota State Fair, people have the opportunity to come up and see the pigs and ask questions about how pig farming works,” he said. “Those types of community interactions are really important and we have had people come on to talk about their experiences at these different events.”
Receiving positive feedback from his listeners has been encouraging, Wayne said, and he has been pleased to get to know the variety of listeners the podcast reaches.
“I have gotten a lot of good feedback,” he said. “I’ve even had other veterinarians and colleagues from outside of our company tell me they listen to it, as well as people from our own community who are not even in the industry. In the end if listening to the podcast can give a farmer something to pass the time and find enjoyment, then it’s a big win for me.”

A Family Affair

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By Taryn Lessman

After years of showing pigs, Kallee Nelson and her older brother, Tanner, have won seven showmanship awards and 13 breed awards between the two of them.
Tanner Nelson has shown pigs for seven years and has won six showmanship awards and 12 breed awards. At the Jackson County Fair earlier this year, he won overall reserve champion in the purebred breeding gilt division. He said his favorite part of showing pigs is meeting new people and connecting with different breeders.
Kallee Nelson was inspired to start showing pigs after watching her brother show his first year. She has shown pigs for six years and has won a champion junior showmanship award and a reserve breed champion award at a jackpot show.
Besides continuing to show pigs, Kallee Nelson said she has a goal of helping her younger sibling show pigs and find the same joy in showing she has.
Showing pigs is no easy job. The Nelson siblings spend time working with their pigs to make sure they are “whip-broke,” which means they are used to the whip used during a show. Kallee Nelson said it is also important to teach the pigs to keep their heads up, which in a show makes the animal look better to judges.
But practicing for shows isn’t the only thing they need to do. Before the show, Tanner Nelson said it is important to use a brush to keep the pig clean and Kallee Nelson said it is important to wash the pig before the show and to put on a show sheen, so the animal looks shiny during the show, making it more presentable.
Raising pigs is a family affair for the Nelsons. They work together, and they enjoy it.
“The joy of winning with a pig you have helped raise with your family is one of the best feelings I have ever felt,” Kallee Nelson said.

Simple, daily tasks can help prevent fires in the field

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By Charis Prunty

The fall harvest has begun in southwest Minnesota, and the Marshall Fire Department has already been called to a corn field after a fire broke out there.
This particular fire on Monday, Sept. 11, was “very small,” said Marshall Fire Chief Quentin Brunsvold, and mostly extinguished by the time his department arrived. However, corn field fires are somewhat common and can be extremely expensive, dangerous, and difficult to extinguish.
“We had a big run last year on some corn field fires and they’re not easy to put out. The crop is six feet tall, so getting people and equipment through there is pretty difficult,” Brunsvold said.
What led to Monday’s fire was impossible to tell, he said, because conditions were so dry. To make sure the fire was completely out, he asked the farmer if there was any tillage equipment nearby that they could use to turn over the dirt. Tilling the ground is an action the fire chief would recommend to anyone who notices a small fire in their field while harvesting.
“If they see [a fire], they could start working it right away,” he said. “Even if they have to drive through the non-picked crops, that would really slow it way down and eliminate some of the issues that we could run into.”
Brunsvold noted that, in this area, most fire departments are made up of volunteers. When these men and women get a fire call, they rush from their home or workplace to the fire house, change into their gear, load up the equipment, and hurry to the fire. It easily takes 15 minutes, if not more, he said. During this time, in a field full of dry corn stalks and leaves, a fire can grow exponentially. Wind can easily push the fire along, moving it even more quickly.
Tractors and combines are often fully engulfed in flames by the time a fire department arrives, Brunsvold said, and are a total loss. Plus, the soil can suffer significant loss of nutrients in a fire. According to South Dakota State University Extension, in an article titled “Avoiding Field Fires During Fall Harvest,” fires can create long term production problems in a field.
“Fields where fires occurred are often left bare. This makes those areas susceptible to soil erosion from winter winds. Lost residue equates to lost nutrients and carbon that is held in the residue. Carbon is a substantial component of soil organic matter and can contribute to long term soil health. Winter snow catch is decreased and evaporation rate is increased in those areas where fires have destroyed crop residue. This directly correlates to yield loss in future years,” according to the article.
One central South Dakota farmer who has long practiced no-till asked a private soil lab to compare samples from one of his fields that had burned, vs. one that had not.
“The lab put a value of $608.00/acre on the nutrient losses (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur),” according to the Extension article. “The producer also noted that yields on burned areas were 50% of yields on unburned areas for two years after the fire.”
All this is reason to take some simple, daily steps that will keep fires at bay, or at least be prepared to intervene when they do break out.
“If you have a small fire — the fire doubles in size every three minutes — it’s going to be a large fire if you have nothing, no way to slow it down,” Brunsvold said.
Besides having tillage equipment on site, he also recommended keeping a working fire extinguisher in the tractor or combine. This can go a long way toward extinguishing the fire or at least slowing it down.
And, consider keeping a leaf blower in the machinery, Brunsvold suggested. He said he knows farmers who keep one of these in the cab and use it each night to clear any remaining debris off the equipment.
“If they have everything cleaned off on a daily basis, that should eliminate a majority of the problems,” Brunsvold said. “Obviously we can’t factor mechanical issues, but if we’re talking about organic material buildup and things like that, that is going to be very combustible. [Cleaning it off] would be the best bet. Don’t start the day with combustible material on your machinery.”
To keep fire safety in mind during long days and nights this harvest season, consider using a checklist like the one provided by the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center. This checklist asks the farmer to look over 11 potential hazards that can lead to field fires, such as “Did you check for damaged wires with worn insulation or frayed belts?” and, “Have you checked that fuses match the recommended capacity?” The checklist can be downloaded at umash.umn.edu/umash-farm-safety-check.
“Everybody be safe this season,” Brunsvold encouraged. “We don’t want to come to your farm. No fire department wants to go to your farm and have to put your fire out or have to rescue you in situations like that, so everybody just be safe. We hope it’s a bountiful harvest for everybody.”

Storm in the Heartland:
Suicide prevention takes center stage in farm safety/health conversation

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National Farm Safety and Health Week — Sept. 17-23 — falls almost smack dab in the middle of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
The two are not unrelated.
Janette Simon, a Jackson-based community health planner with Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services, said the number of suicides in Minnesota increased by nearly 75 percent from 2001 to 2021 — from 480 to 835. Research shows farm owners and workers are three to five times more likely to die by suicide when compared to other occupations.
The highest rates of suicide are among white males ages 75 to 84. From 2011 to 2018, the age-adjusted rate of suicide for Minnesota farm residents was higher than the rate for non-farm residents.
The most common method used to commit suicide is firearms. The leading means of committing suicide among members of Minnesota’s farming community is also firearm — in 66 percent of cases from 2011 to 2018, in fact, compared to the general Minnesota population, in which 46 percent of suicides in the same time period involved a firearm.
Simon said a key to helping prevent suicide is awareness of some common myths about suicide and the facts that bust them.
Myth: People experiencing suicidal crises keep their plans to themselves.
Fact: Most suicidal people communicate their intent sometime during the week preceding their attempt, Simon said. This communication may come in the form of verbal or behavioral clues. “People would be better off if I wasn’t around,” is an example of a verbal clue, she said, while getting personal affairs in order, including giving away items, is an example of a behavioral clue.
Myth: Once a person decides to attempt suicide, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Fact: Suicide is the most preventable kind of death, Simon said, and almost any positive action may save a life.
Myth: Only professionals can prevent suicide.
Fact: You don’t have to have all the answers, Simon said. Just as CPR from a bystander can help a person in a cardiac crisis, QPR — Question, Persuade and Refer — can help someone in a mental health crisis. QPR is not a form of counseling, Simon said, yet it offers hope through positive action.
QPR is a short educational online program designed to teach lay people the clues of suicide and how to respond. Simon said QPR works like this:
  • Question someone about his or her possible suicidal behavior: “Have you been so unhappy that you have been thinking about ending your life?”
  • •Persuade someone experiencing a mental health crisis to stay alive and to seek help: “I want you to live, and we’ll get through this.”
  • •Refer someone in a crisis to appropriate resources: “Will you go with me to get help?”
Simon said despite the startling statistics regarding suicide in general and suicide among members of the farming community in particular, there is good news about suicide prevention in the local area. Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services was recently awarded a four-year suicide prevention grant. Simon said this grant will allow Jackson and Cottonwood counties to develop a comprehensive plan to shore up suicide awareness and prevention programs and resources.