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Farming in the Fast Lane

February 29, 2012
p38 Farming in the fast lane 1

Top Producer Seminar breaks all records

The annual Top Producer Seminar shattered all of its previous records for both attendance and sponsorship. The three-day event held in Chicago attracted 877 of the nation’s largest producers, representing a total of 4.3 million acres in 25 states and two Canadian provinces. Including speakers, representatives of the event’s 28 sponsors and staff, total attendance was more than 1,200.

Young farmers 35 and under kicked off the event with the Tomorrow’s Top Producer program, and the week was capped with the Top Producer of the Year award banquet.

This year’s seminar theme, "Farming in the Fast Lane," featured more than 40 educational sessions to help producers hone their financial, marketing and management skills and deal with today’s volatile farm economy.

The excerpts on the following pages are highlights from this year’s exciting event. Mark your calendar now for the next Top Producer Seminar, Jan. 30 through Feb. 1, 2013.


Premier sponsors of the 2012 Top Producer Seminar were: AgriGold; AgriLogic/The Assure Group; Agrium; Agrotain; Apache Sprayers; Asgrow/DeKalb; BASF; Bayer CropScience; Cargill; Challenger; Dow AgroSciences brands Enlist, Instinct, Mycogen and SureStart; Firestone; Pioneer Hi-Bred; Rabo AgriFinance; SFP; Syngenta; and Top Third Ag Marketing. Co-sponsors were: Advance Trading; Farmers Feeding the World; Integris; Kennedy and Coe; Michelin; Novozymes; Soybean Premiums; and Water Street Solutions.

Potato Farmer Wins Top Producer of the Year

Top Producer chose three finalists for their entrepreneurship and excellence in the business of farming for its annual Top Producer of the Year award, presented by Challenger and co-sponsored by Asgrow/DeKalb, Bayer CropScience and SFP. The exclusive honor for top producers in agriculture was given in Chicago on Feb. 2.

Gregg Halverson of Black Gold Farms, based in North Dakota, won the 2012 award. Halverson’s grandfather planted his first potatoes in 1928 on what is now the family farm near Forest River, N.D. His idea was to sell seed to other growers in the emerging potato business in the Red River Valley. Twenty years later, Gregg’s father converted the business to a table-stock operation. In 1959, the family grew its first potatoes for the potato chip trade and the french-fried potato market.

Today, under Gregg’s leadership, Black Gold Farms is the largest fresh-crop producer of chip potatoes in the U.S.

The company farms more than 20,000 acres with 11 individual farms in 11 states, from Texas to Florida and up into Indiana and Missouri. The company mostly grows potatoes for chips, but also produces table-stock potatoes, sweet potatoes and peanuts.

Halverson has taken a successful operation that was passed on to him and grown it to become even more successful. His hard-work ethic continues in his three children, who are actively involved in the business: John is the vice president of operations; Eric is the vice president of technology and will eventually take over as CEO; and Leah is the marketing specialist for Black Gold Farms.

You can read more about Halverson in an upcoming issue of Top Producer magazine.

—Jeanne Bernick

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FEATURED IN: Top Producer - March 2012

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