Primaries: Three vie for Soil and Water supervisor

Election time is getting close, and it is time to narrow down the candidates.

The Soil and Water supervisor position for District 4 will hold a primary on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Currently three candidates, the primary will bring it down to two candidates for the election on Nov. 4. John Bhend, John Fossey and Randy Smith are all vying for the supervisor position on the Soil and Water Board for District 4.

Randy Smith

Randy Smith hopes to get on the soil and water board to bring his experience with livestock and farming to the SWCD District 4 board.

“I’m working for all aspects of the livestock industry,” Smith said.

He has learned and practiced many methods of conservation while working as a dairy and swine farmer. Smith hopes to use different ways to practice conservation.

“Just to work with other people involved and [do] whatever I can do to keep clean water and keep the top soil where it’s supposed to be,” 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 and live in Adams. 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’d like to get it,” Smith said. “I think it would be interesting and fun to learn new things.”

 John Bhend, 42

John Bhend hopes to bring his knowledge on farm issues to the SWCD District 4 board.

“I just want to have good representation for agriculture and the other interests when it comes to the soil and water district board,” Bhend said. “[I hope to] take advantage of the programs out there to maintain and improve the environment.”

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 to 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.

John Fossey

John Fossey hopes to bring his experience with conservation to the SWCD District 4 board, and has an interest in learning more.

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.

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