‘An important part of our FBM program’

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen stopped by Riverland Community College Monday morning for a tour of the Ag Science and Food Science programs offered at the college.

Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Barb Embacher, RCC Diversity Officer Dani Heiny and Farm Business Management (FBM) instructor Dan Miller gave Petersen a glimpse into what RCC offers students seeking jobs in the agricultural field.

“A lot of people when they think about agriculture think about farming, but there are many more things that you can be a part of to be involved in agriculture,” Petersen told the Herald. “It’s not just about farming. Sometimes you’re farming and having a job that’s important to the agricultural sector, whether it’s food sciences, social sciences or driving a semi, it’s really exciting.”

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The tour included a look at the Agricultural Science laboratory and the new Food Science laboratory, which just opened up this semester.

RCC staff also highlighted the diversity of the students in the FBM program. Petersen noted the need for diversity to meet the demands in growing markets in Minnesota, such as the Halal market.

“To see Riverland’s commitment to diversifying agriculture, both on the ground and within the student body, is really important,” Petersen said. “If you’re looking at raising goats or sheep for the Halal market, there’s a really important opportunity there. We raise about 25,000 goats in Minnesota, but our need is about 500,000, so we have to build our processing. But we have an opportunity to have people start raising goats.”

“Goats are an easy way to get into farming,” he added. “It’s easier to raise a goat than a cow in different areas and they’re also more affordable. Providing those opportunities through the marketplace is going to be a really good option.”

Embacher thanked Petersen for the assistance the MDA has provided to the FBM program. Petersen then announced that $250,000 in CARES Act funds will be used for FBM scholarships.

“Riverland plays an important part in working with our Farm Business Management program in the state,” Petersen said. “They have Farm Business Management instructors here that help farmers with their financial situation. We have a lot of farmers who are unfortunately in distress right now, so we’re going to help with some tuition assistance.”

Petersen also said $1 million will be used for a meat processing grant.