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Home > All About the MDA > Divisions Directory > Ag Marketing & Development Division

Agricultural Marketing & Development Division


Contact:

Mary Hanks, Ph.D., Director
Paul Hugunin, Supervisor
Bob Patton, Supervisor
Curt Zimmerman, Supervisor

Staff Directory

Our division focuses on strengthening Minnesota’s agricultural economy and ensuring the health of our environment by helping farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses adopt practices and technologies that will help them take advantage of emerging opportunities while addressing current challenges and global issues.  We develop, market, and promote local foods, organic products, livestock, and renewable fuels.  We also help identify domestic and international market opportunities for agricultural products.

Our staff works jointly with other agencies, organizations, farmers, and other businesses to conduct and research and share information about the use and protection of agricultural working lands and related natural resources.  We also have a program that helps farmers demonstrate sustainable agriculture practices and systems.  The division manages the University of Minnesota/Minnesota Department of Agriculture bio-control and plant pathology containment research facility as well. 

Program Information:

Agricultural Growth, Research & Innovation (AGRI) Fund (and other funding opportunities)  |  Agricultural Land Use Technical Assistance  |  Business Development & Tradeshow Support  |  Conservation Drainage  |   Conservation Programs |  County Fair Grant  |   Economic Analysis and Market Research |  Farmers' Market |  Funding  |  Insect and Plant Pathology Containment Facility  |   Integrated Pest Management (IPM) |  International Marketing  |  Licensing and Bonding  |   Livestock Development |  Minnesota Ag in the Classroom (MAITC)  |  Minnesota Ag Research and Promotion Councils  |  Minnesota Grown  |  Minnesota Value Added Grant Program  |  Renewable Energy  |  Soil Quality, Rainfall Simulation, and Cover Crops  |  Sustainable and Organic Agriculture 


Minnesota Ag in the Classroom (MAITC)

The mission of MAITC is to promote an understanding and awareness of the importance of agriculture to a wide range of audiences, but primarily to K-12 students and teachers. The program provides a myriad of educational resources for teachers to “integrate or infuse” agriculture content/activities into core subject areas such as social studies, science, language arts and math. Most materials are free and can be viewed and ordered from the program’s website. MAITC is a unique public/private partnership between the MDA and the MAITC Foundation.


Agricultural Development and Environmental Quality

Conservation Drainage

MDA supports efforts to design and evaluate technologies and practices that protect or mitigate impact of agricultural drainage upon water quality. The agency partners with others on many of the projects, including producers, scientists from the University of Minnesota, and drainage industry representatives. Contact Mark.Dittrich@state.mn.us for more information.

Conservation Programs

Staff provide information on federal and state conservation programs and monitor major developments in federal and state conservation policy relative to Minnesota agriculture. Contact Barbara.Weisman@state.mn.us for more information.

Soil Quality, Rainfall Simulation, and Cover Crops (Carbon Sequestration)

Staff works with farmers on issues of soil quality and the use of cover crops. Rainfall simulation is a primary tool used on farms to assess tillage management effects on soil and water quality. The publication Assessing the Soil System: A Review of Soil Quality Literature (PDF: 650 KB / 71 pages) is an introduction to soil quality research. Contact Mark.Zumwinkle@state.mn.us for more information.


Environmental Review and Land Use

Agricultural Land Use Technical Assistance

The activity provides local government officials with practical assistance on land use issues relating to agriculture. Issues include: preserving agricultural land resources; minimizing conflicts between new rural residents and the farming community; assisting farmers and local governments site animal agriculture facilities; identifying the financial costs of rural sprawl; and promoting agricultural land preservation. Contact Becky.Balk@state.mn.us and Bob.Patton@state.mn.us for more information.

Environmental & Local Water Plan Review

Documents on proposed public and private projects are reviewed for impacts on agriculture. Staff also coordinate with the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and other agencies on environmental issues or projects affecting agriculture. We help prepare department environmental documents and provide information on the state environmental review process. We also review county local water plans. Contact Becky.Balk@state.mn.us and Bob.Patton@state.mn.us at for more information.


Integrated Pest Management

Insect and Plant Pathology Containment Facility

The MDA-University of Minnesota (UMN) containment facility is located within the current greenhouse complex of the UMN, St. Paul Campus. It is a biological control and plant pathology research facility licensed by USDA. Current research includes screening biocontrol agents of soybean aphid and garlic mustard. Research in plant pathology facility includes: soybean rust and wheat stem rust. Contact the Quarantine Officer at 651-503-0955, Jeanne.Ciborowski@state.mn.us or Assistant Quarantine Officer at 651-231-8846, Stephanie.Dahl@state.mn.us.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 

IPM is a balanced approach to pest management which incorporates chemical, biological and cultural methods. IPM activities are focused on providing information for growers and land managers on alternative choices in pest management; developing an IPM Program for school districts; and facilitating IPM use in fruit and vegetable production. Contact Jeanne.Ciborowski@state.mn.us for more information.


Sustainable and Organic Agriculture

Organic and Diversified Agriculture

Organic products are a fast-growing sector of the food industry domestically and internationally, and is recognized as an important production option for Minnesota producers. We offer information and technical assistance on organic production methods, conversion to organic, certification, etc. to growers, processors, and consumers.

Producer surveys help us stay current with the needs of organic growers in Minnesota. We also work with state, federal and nonprofit agencies to coordinate efforts to support the organic sector.

The program also administers cost-share funds to help defray the costs of organic certification. Contact Meg.Moynihan@state.mn.us for more information.

Rotational Grazing Systems

In cooperation with NRCS, we assist livestock producers with rotational grazing plans. Rotational grazing offers benefits for natural resource protection, high quality production and use of forage throughout the growing seasons, and the farm's cash flow. Rotational grazing is an effective livestock management system for protecting water, especially in sensitive riparian areas. Rotational grazing plans can be used by farmers to apply for cost-share programs such as USDA EQIP funds. Contact Wayne.Monsen@state.mn.us for more information.

Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grants

Grants provide a maximum of $25,000 to farmers, researchers, educators and non-profit organizations for on-farm demonstrations that last up to three years. The projects demonstrate farming methods or systems that increase energy efficiency, reduce agricultural chemical usage, and show environmental and economic benefits. A technical review panel evaluates the applications and makes recommendations. Summaries of project results are published annually in the Greenbook. Contact Jeanne.Ciborowski@state.mn.us for more information.

Sustainable Agriculture Loans

Low-interest loans for purchasing new or used equipment and/or facilities assist farmers in making the transition to more environmentally sound, profitable practices. Contact Wayne.Monsen@state.mn.us for more information.


Business Development and Tradeshow Support

Staff engage companies interested in expanding their business, and those hoping to start a new food/ag business in our state, to help with marketing, and business/market planning. Resources include: the Tradeshow Support Program (cost-sharing for space & booth development at wholesale food shows, and cost-sharing for retail sampling events), coordination of Minnesota Pavilions at several national and international tradeshows, and coordination of the statewide company database called TRADIRS. Contact Brian Erickson at Brian.J.Erickson@state.mn.us or 651-201-6539 for more information.

Economic Analysis and Market Research

This program focuses on providing market information and economic data to Minnesota's agricultural producers, processors, and exporters. Major responsibilities include: domestic and international market research, economic and statistical analysis, and agricultural impact studies. Contact Su.Ye@state.mn.us or Emily.Jerve@state.mn.us for more information.

International Marketing

Minnesota is the 4th largest agricultural exporting state in the United States. In 2012, Minnesota exported over $8.2 billion dollars in agricultural products to the world. Soybeans, corn, red meat, and feed account for nearly 60 percent of Minnesota’s total agricultural exports. China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Korea, and Taiwan are the top markets for Minnesota's agricultural exports. Their combined market-share is 62%. Contact Christina.Connelly@state.mn.usBrian.J.Erickson@state.mn.us, Su.Ye@state.mn.us, or Emily.Jerve@state.mn.us for more information.

Licensing and Bonding Programs

The major function of these programs is to ensure that persons who buy livestock in Minnesota are licensed and bonded. Division personnel also weigh livestock at meat processing facilities. Contact Curt.Zimmerman@state.mn.us for more information.

Livestock Development

The livestock industry in Minnesota is a multi-billion dollar industry and is an important component of local economies. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture works with diverse stakeholders to ensure that the livestock industry remains viable and grows in a sustainable manner. The Livestock Development Team assists livestock producers, local units of government and many other partners with livestock development and land use issues. Contact Curt.Zimmerman@state.mn.us, Jim.Ostlie@state.mn.us, David.Weinand@state.mn.us, Kelly.Anderson@state.mn.us or Wayne.Monsen@state.mn.us for more information.

Minnesota Grown Program

Minnesota Grown is the umbrella program that unites the marketing efforts of several commodity/market groups. It promotes Minnesota products within the state and in other domestic markets. Efforts include developing promotional/advertising programs for producer groups, licensing users of the Minnesota Grown logo and introducing several new marketing tools. Contact Paul.Hugunin@state.mn.us or Jessica.Miles@state.mn.us for more information.

Renewable Energy

Minnesota is a national leader in ethanol policy and development.  Minnesota was the first state to mandate the use of biodiesel. Contact Kevin.Hennessy@state.mn.us for more information.
arrow icon More about the Ethanol and Biodiesel programs


Resources & Related Links:

Funding {AGRI (Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation) Fund and Other Funding Opportunities}:

Publication: