State ag department tours local business expansion
WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is touring the west-central part of the state to showcase business owners’ expansion achievements made possible by help from state grants.
On Tuesday, assistant agriculture commissioner Charlie Poster visited the Nystrom family farm, located on Quine Avenue, to view the progress of the beef herd expansion.
Aaron Nystrom is a beginning farmer who returned to the farm in 2012. He is currently working to increase his beef herd by building a new barn and working with locals to source his calves.
“I am the fourth-generation owner of the farm,” Nystrom said. “We realized that if we wanted to remain owners of the farm, and be able to pass this along to our children, we needed to do something.”
Nystrom received a $25,000 grant to help fund the creation of the new 50 feet by 200 feet cattle barn. He plans to bring in 500 cattle a year, and once the barn is completed it will be able to hold 200 to 250 cattle at a time.
The grant is known as the Livestock Investment Grant and, according to Poster, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture issued grants for 100 applicants this year. The recipients have used the grants for a variety of improvement and expansion projects.
In addition to building a new cattle barn, Nystrom plans to work with a local dairy farm to source his calves. He buys very little feed for his cattle, since he grows his own, but when he does purchase feed Nystrom ensures that it is locally purchased.
“It’s great to see that every dollar put into this project, and even after the project is completed, is going back out into the community,” Poster said.
Nystrom said the barn should be completed in three weeks and that he hopes to start moving cattle in within days of completion.
The new barn is less than a mile away from the family’s home and farm, and Nystrom said the site is perfect for a cattle barn.
“The barn is being built on this mound, and the soil is very gravelly and clay-like, so it’s not very good land for farming,” Nystrom said. “I can’t think of a more perfect spot to build a cattle barn.
“We also liked this site because the air quality up here is so much better,” he added.
The Nystroms also said there is room on the site for a second barn to be built in the future.
“Right now we both have jobs off the farm, but we hope that one day, at least for our children, we can pass this on,” said Kia Nystrom.
While the Nystroms were recognized for their cattle expansion, their last name may also be recognizable due to the family orchard that was first started by Aaron Nystrom’s great-grandfather. Nystrom Orchard has participated in the farm-to-school program, which enriches the connections communities have with fresh, healthy food and local producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at school.
“This is what this grant is all about — helping young families start up these projects, which only helps the community’s agriculture and economics grow,” Poster said.
Poster also made a Tuesday stop in Marshall to visit Klein Foods Inc. The gourmet food business seeks to increase sales by 200 percent in four years, and plans to use the grant to locally source ingredients and add six employees.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.