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2013 Minnesota Farm Families of the Year
July 21, 2013

This year, 76 families from throughout Minnesota will be honored as a 2013 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.

The families will be recognized in ceremonies set for 1:30 to 3 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8 at the annual Minnesota Farmfest near Redwood Falls.

Local Extension committees chose the families for demonstrating commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture. The families represent each county participating in the program.

“Farm families and agriculture are a major driver of Minnesota’s economy and the vitality of Minnesota’s rural communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. “The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these outstanding families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.”

A sampling of families and the breadth of their contributions to agriculture follows, as does a complete list. More on Farmfest is available at

The background on all the farm families is at

Paul and Deb Rentschler and family, Jackson County
A fourth generation farming family, the Rentschlers operate a wean-to-finish hog operation, as well as growing corn and soybeans. The family is from Lakefield and is active in 4-H, including the state swine committee, and FFA, as well as the Minnesota Pork Chop Open and Jackson County Jackpot Hog Show.

Chad and Cameo Zehnder and family, Isanti County 
Farming in Stanchfield since 2002, the Zehnders grow alfalfa and grass hay and raise purebred Red Angus and Charolais beef cattle that are sold throughout the United States. They are involved in 4-H, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Minnesota Cattleman’s Association and the executive committee of the Minnesota Beef Expo; they also are Farm Bureau members.

Benike Farms, Inc., Koochiching County 
In 1993, Brent, Ross and Kent Benike formed Benike Farms from the operation begun by their parents. Today, Benike Farms consists of 700 acres of diversified crops including wheat, perennial ryegrass, soybean, canola and you-pick corn. The farm is a member of the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association and the Minnesota Soybean Growers; all three brothers volunteer with area civic programs.

Donny and Holly Thompson and family, Olmsted County 
Using high-technology advances including daily milk weights and activity monitoring, the Thompsons house nearly 200 head of registered and grade Holsteins. They also raise crops on more than 700 acres, with more acres devoted to pasture, woods and waterways. The family is involved in 4-H, FFA and the Minnesota Dairy Herd Improvement Association.

Click here for a full list of honorees.




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