This quarter, Ag Innovation News highlights board member and vice chair Jerry Hasnedl. Jerry represents Minnesota Farmers Union and as AURI’s Vice Chair he brings critical thinking and problem solving to board meetings, offering unique insight in the area of value-added agriculture.
AIN: You’ve now been a board member for a number of years—what are some of the highlights from your time on the board?
JH: My number one highlight and the one thing during my tenure that has had the most significant impact on our organization is participating in board decisions regarding the recruitment and selection of leaders at the organizational and board level. Notably, the most important duty of any board is attracting and keeping strong leaders. Our choice of leaders has demonstrated our commitment to excellence and helped raise the awareness of our organization’s impact and potential with the legislature and stakeholders. Likewise, the addition of new talent and resources has positioned our organization for significant growth and unleashed the potential to achieve our mission.
AIN: During the next year, do you have any goals you hope to achieve?
JH: During the next year and possibly the next several years I see a lot of stress and pressure on the soybean industry. I would like real focus on the road sealant project as well as continued research on projects that will add more value to soymeal and other by-products of the soy crush industry. I don’t believe farmers can stand by and wait for the recovery of the export market. While AURI cannot fully restore the export quantity soybeans reached prior to 2018, we can lead and collaborate with the soybean industry to increase domestic use and this demand should raise the commodity price on the farm.
AIN: What are your thoughts on AURI’s future? Where do you see the organization going in the next 5 years?
JH: My vision is for our budget to double. State borders do not exist when it comes to determining the price a farmer receives at the elevator or processing plant. Therefore, I see AURI becoming a more regional organization. This will really test our ability as a board to govern.
AIN: What has been the most exciting elements of your time on the AURI board?
JH: There is no question in my mind. The people that make up the organization (AURI staff and fellow board members) keep me motivated about agriculture and Minnesota.
AIN: In the current value-added and new uses environment, what opportunities do you see for AURI?
JH: I think it is fair to say that agriculture as an industry is at a critical juncture. Commodity prices are very low due to tariffs and restrictions on trade while input costs continue to be high. Farmers, processors, and traders are looking for ways to add value to the commodities they are handling and AURI”s mission addresses those goals.
AIN: There’s been a lot of value-added activity in the various ag and consumer sectors, what are some of the more exciting developments you’ve seen?
JH: Often it is hard to get your arms around the technology and the products that showcase AURI’s significant contributions. Smude’s, AURI’s Ag Innovator of the year award winner, uniquely shows how AURI can make a significant contribution to the value of ag production. AURI helped with labeling, packaging, marketing, and other assistance. The microwave popcorn product which contains three ingredients is simple, tasty, and easy to explain.
AIN: Can you share any recent innovations in AURI’s focus areas (i.e. food, coproducts, bio-based products, renewable energy)?
JH: In addition to the Smude’s project, some very interesting work is being done in soy-based road sealants, pet care products using wheat, adding value to byproducts of renewable energy as well as hops and malting projects for craft brewers are some of the initiatives that we have been involved with.
AIN: Are there any new partnerships or collaborations you’d like to see AURI establish?
JH: I would like to see AURI develop closer relationships with corporations such as AGP, Land O Lakes, and CHS. Cooperatives are owned directly by farmers so any projects or products we can enhance directly feedback to farmers. It also drives awareness of AURI.