The fourth session of the exclusive “Leadership MN” program to which RCOC Chamber President, Angie Schaefbauer is a participant was held in Austin, Minnesota last week. Topics covered were Agriculture & Food Production.
Day 1 kicked off with a presentation from Quality Pork Processors, Inc. who spoke about their innovative on-site company health care clinic recently implemented for their employees and the great results they’ve experienced in the first year of operation. We then traveled to POET Biorefining where we toured the plant and learned how ethanol is made; the discussion focused on the economic impact that the bioethanol industry has on our state and the issues and challenges they face as they grow.
We then traveled to The Hormel Institute – a partnership between the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic where the mission is to conduct cutting-edge cancer research and provide education in the biological sciences with applications in medicine and agriculture. The Hormel Institute generates fundamental knowledge and disseminates it to the scientific community worldwide. It also serves as a center of technical and educational expertise for the benefit of the Austin community, the surrounding region and the State of Minnesota.
Later in the day we attended a briefing by Perry Aasness, executive director, Minnesota Agri-Growth Council and heard an overview on the state of agriculture in Minnesota, the economic impact, and current and future challenges facing this industry. The evening wrapped up with a presentation by Hormel Food executives who provided an overview of Hormel and some of the strategies they have used to experience impressive growth within their company. We also learned about some of the unique challenges and opportunities that come along with having a Fortune 500 company in rural Minnesota.
Day 2 kicked off with a tour of Thome Family Farms, Inc., a highly sophisticated hog producing facility; we toured their operations and learned about government regulations and controversies these facilities face as well as the kinds of economic impacts that influence their industry.
During lunch, we learned about Hormel’s “Project Spammy” campaign, a philanthropic effort focused on hunger relief in Guatemala. They partner with Food for the Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States to bring nutrition, education and leadership to the millions of malnourished children and families throughout the world.
The session wrapped with a “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Hormel meat processing plant, where Quality Pork Processors (a business within a business) processes pork and meat for the Hormel Company.