University of Minnesota recognizes 2023 Farm Families of the Year

(ABC 6 News) – The University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program is honoring farm families from throughout Minnesota for their significant contributions to the agriculture industry and their local communities.

This is the first time in recent memory that every county has selected agricultural leaders for this recognition, according to the program.

Those honored cover a wide spectrum of farming, from traditional crops and livestock to community-based ventures focused on organics and traditional native foods.

They were chosen by county-based local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture.

The farm families recognized in southeast Minnesota are below:

Olmsted County – Franke Farm

The Franke farm in Olmsted County is a third-generation family farm. Jim Franke’s grandparents, Rudolph and Amanda Franke, were the first generation of the family on the land. His mom and dad, Clarence and Janet, then purchased the farm. They milked cows, farrowed pigs, raised chicken and had beef cows. They also grew corn, oats, soybeans and hay.

Jim and his wife Deb, purchased the farm from Jim’s parents and raise 80 beef cow/calf pairs, 20 replacement heifers and a few pigs. The Frankes also grow corn, soybeans and hay. Clarence remained very involved in the farm until his passing in 2020.

All Franke family members have been involved in their local 4-H beef project. To read more, CLICK HERE.

Fillmore County – Boettcher Family

Family ownership of a portion of the Boettcher farm dates to 1877 when Curt Boettcher’s great-grandfather, Frederick, purchased 80 acres. Frederick’s son, Otto, deeded his daughters Ruth and Dorothy and their husbands each 40 acres of that parcel. Ruth’s 40 acres have been family owned since 1877; Dorothy’s land fell out of family ownership for four years but is once again family-owned. Ruth and her husband, Victor Boettcher, moved to the homestead in 1939. They raised their three sons on the farm. Their youngest, Curtis, took over ownership of the farm in 1972. At that time the farm consisted of 276 acres with 100 of those acres rented. Curt and Cheryle’s sons, Brian and Chad, joined the operation after graduating high school and a partnership was formed in 2012.

Over time more land was acquired by the Boettchers and today the family owns 900 acres and rents about 100. To read more, CLICK HERE.

Freeborn County – Aaron and Tammy Cech

Aaron and Tammy Cech are fourth-generation farmers in Freeborn County. They come from multi-generational farming families and are active in their community.

The couple farms with Aaron’s father, Dave, and their daughter Payton. Aaron and Tammy have two other daughters, Kylie and McKenna, and one grandson, Rory.

The family grows corn and soybeans and raises hogs. Payton is taking on more of the day-to-day operation of the farm to carry on for the next generation. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

Mower County – MRJ Farms of Waltham

The Gebhardt family moved to Minnesota from Illinois in 1974 after being displaced by eminent domain. The farm started as a corn and soybean operation and as farms were added, peas, sweet corn and hog finishing were included. Over the years, MRJ Farms used conservation practices by partnering with the local NRCS and its EQIP and CRP programs. The Gebhardts’ farm was one of the first alternative practice models for the Minnesota Statewide Buffer Program.

Currently, the Gebhardts are raising corn and soybeans. Peas, sweet corn and hogs have been discontinued as family members get closer to retirement. The family includes Michael and his wife, Barbara; Robert and his wife, Lois; and Jim Gebhardt.

All three brothers actively participate in the day-to-day operation of the farm. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

Dodge County – Glenn and Carolyn Hahn

Glenn grew up on his family’s farm near Sargeant in southeast Minnesota. He started farming part-time in 1973. He moved to the farm in 1977. Glenn and Carolyn started a small dairy and then expanded in 1993 on a rented farm when their son Brian joined the operation. The Hahns sold their dairy herd in 1997 and expanded the crop side of the business.

In 2014, Brian and his family traded farms with Glenn and Carolyn when Brian took over a major part of the operation in both acres and management. Today, the farm consists of corn, soybeans, canning corn and hay on about 2,000 acres of owned and rented land.

Glenn and Carolyn have five children. Brian and his wife, Kristie, and their two sons are becoming much more involved in the operation as Glenn and Carolyn move into retirement. The Hahns’ daughter Melissa and her husband, Roger, farm in the area as well, and the families support and help each other as needed.

To read more, CLICK HERE.

The Farm Family Recognition Program has honored Minnesota farmers since 1979. It is coordinated by University of Minnesota Extension, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Farm Families for 2023 will be recognized at Farmfest, to be held in Redwood County, August 1-3, 2023.