How Livestock Fits
Once a standing feature on the Duncansons spread, eventually the brothers decided the returns were not sufficient for their effort. "Part of it was scale; part was inefficiency,” says Pat. "We were paying the bills on the feedlot with custom feeding but did not feel we were getting ahead.”
They now buy cattle only when they can lock in profits. "We look at the cattle, ethanol, the elevator, the rail terminal, and the feed mill all the same way: as markets for our corn. Wherever the best market is, is where we go,” Pat says. This explains why the feedlot sat empty this summer.
They like feeding Holstein steers. "They're easy to predict because genetically they're very similar. When corn is cheap, Holsteins can compete well; not so well as corn gets more expensive.
They contract finish hogs, reducing risk exposure. "Duncanson Growers doesn't have direct ownership in the hogs because we want to be careful that we make smart asset investments,” Pat says. The best part of the hogs: the manure, which is applied to fields as fertilizer. "When we started this, little did we realize the manure would turn out to be a bigger payback than the pigs,” Pat says.
Role No. 1 – Be an asset to the community:
Karl is on the local school board; chairman of the University of Minnesota Outreach Center-Waseca; helps organize Mapleton's annual Scottish celebration for the poet Robert Burns.
Jack, Karl's wife, served on the Minnesota Pollution Control Citizens Board for 12 years; on the Minnesota Horse Racing Commission; active in many local saddle club events.
Kristin, a Washington, D.C., aide to Minnesota Sen. Rudy Boschwitz in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, chairs the Governor's Biodiesel Task Force; is past president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers; past board member of the American Soybean Association and the Minnesota Biodiesel Council; serves onthe Minnesota Agri-Growth Council.
Pat is a member of the foundation board for South Central College in Mankato, Minn.; serves on the University of Minnesota's Regent Candidate Advisory Council, is active with the University's Alumni Association; sings in the church choir; and helps lead a regional precision agriculture group.
If you are looking for advice on philanthropy, you might check out:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Giving Back by Elizabeth Ziemba.