3 candidates file for SWCD District 4; 2 file for District 3

Published 10:35 am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District is looking to fill board seats this year.

John Grass Jr. and James Kellogg filed for SWCD Supervisor District 3, while John Bhend, John Fossey and Randy Smith filed for SWCD Supervisor District 4.

John Bhend



John Bhend filed for SWCD Supervisor District 4 to bring his knowledge on farm issues to the board.

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“I’ve been active in agriculture,” Bhend said. “I want to make sure that we have good representation for the SWCD, and the district I am in.”

Although he has never run for a board position before, he has technical expertise and has experience operating in water sheds and dealing with drainage, runoff, erosion, general agriculture issues, water quality, budgeting and delegating project management.

Bhend grew up farming in LeRoy and has always enjoyed working outside and helping his father farm. He attended the University of Minnesota for animal science and agronomy. His work as a full-time agriculture lender at the Eastwood Bank in Austin has allowed him to work hand in hand with farmers in many counties. Outside of work, he enjoys participating in the Southland FFA, seeing his children participate in 4-H, camping, golfing, snowmobiling and just getting outdoors. He also enjoys raising honey bees.

If elected, Bhend would like to look at issues involving pollution, erosion and effects of turbidity, and making sure there are practices in place for those. He also would like look at monitoring water quality, livestock and feed lots in the area, and making sure funding and grants are available to help farmers when they need it.

“I want to make sure our farmers are well represented here,” Bhend said.

John Fossey



An interest in conservation led John Fossey to file for SWCD Supervisor District 4.

“I have been practicing conservation all my life,” Fossey said. “As a farmer we like to conserve our soil and water.”

Fossey was on the Nevada Township board for 18 years. He has also had 40 years of experience farming with his wife. He has also taken college courses.

Fossey said he does not have any specific agenda, but he is very interested in conservation. If elected, he would like to learn more about the big issues farmers, among others, are facing.

When he is not farming, Fossey enjoys traveling and riding motorcycle.

Randy Smith

Randy Smith filed for SWCD Supervisor District 4 to bring his farming expertise to the board and focus on water quality and irrigation issues.

“I had quite a few people ask me to run for it,” Smith said.

Smith is a board member of the American Dairy Association for Mower County currently, and although he has never run for a seat similar to the supervisor position, he has been involved with several waterway projects with the farms he and his two brothers manage. He is also the president for a group drainage board and helps manage a drainage ditch that runs over several thousand acres.

Smith graduated high school and took classes at Riverland Community College in Austin in the farm operations and management program. He has been a full-time farmer for 25 years, and he currently owns and operates his own dairy farm. He is also a contractor for growing hogs. He and his two brothers collectively own 630 acres of farmland.

Smith and his wife have five children, the youngest having just graduated from high school. Outside of work, Smith enjoys camping, ice fishing and riding his Harley motorcycle.

If elected, Smith would like to look into irrigation and water quality issues, among other things. He said he thinks it would be a good idea to have somebody on the board who takes care of livestock, because they will bring another perspective to the issues.

“I thought that would be a strong position to have for the water quality issues we’ll be facing in the future,” Smith said. “Being a farmer, especially a livestock farmer, I like keeping the water clean, and conserving the topsoil.”

Look to future editions of the Herald for stories on John Grass Jr. and James Kellogg running for the SWCD District 3 seat.