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Larsons are ‘Farm Family of the Year’


Ever since he was 8 years old, Larry Larson knew he wanted to do just three things in life: farm, get married and have kids.

He has done exactly that and Thursday he was honored for such when the Larsons were formally named Mower County’s 2010 Farm Family of the Year.

“It’s an honor,” Larson said Wednesday, taking a break from raking hay and stepping into the office of the Sargeant Grain Company, which is part of his operation.

“But, I’m just doing what I love. I love farming,” Larson added.

The Farm Family Recognition Program has existed since 1980. Sponsored by The University of Minnesota, the program honored 73 families this year.

Families who received the honors were selected by their local county’s University of Minnesota Extension committee for demonstrating a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agriculture production.

The Larson family farm has grown substantially since Larry Larson’s father, Lyall, started the dairy, hog and beef farm in Sargeant in 1938.

In the 1940s, the farm marketed about 300 hogs a year, Larry said, adding that he used to enjoy raising hogs as a youth. In 1957, his father added the farm’s first full-time farm hand.

Today, the Larson farm — run by Larry and his son, Don — markets grain as well as 45,000 hogs per year, 36,000 farrow-to-finish, in addition to farming 500 acres annually, growing alfalfa, corn and soybeans. The family is in the process of selling a turkey operation.

Don is the chief operating officer as the farm employs 15 people and uses contract growers; Larry, who calls himself “semi-retired” continues to oversee the crops and partake in day-to-day farming.

“I’ve worked in every area, and it’s all fun,” Larry, a certified crop advisor, said.

Growing up, Larry particularly enjoyed raising hogs for 4-H projects.

“I’ve always been a farmer,” Larry said, noting that at the age of 15 he drove a truckload of hogs down Snelling Avenue in St. Paul on his way to the State Fair.

“Can you see a 15-year-old kid doing that today?” He asked through his laughter.

From his 4-H projects, Larry said, he learned how to manage livestock and make money. After high school, he followed his dreams to the University of Minnesota where he studied agronomy and earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics.

Following college, Larry went home to farm and raise a family. Farming with his father and brother Vance, they raised corn, turkeys, and hogs, marketing 3,500 to 4,000 pigs a year. They also sold Pioneer Seed.

In 1965, the three bought the Sargeant Grain Company and Larry’s wife, Suzanne Larson, who passed away in 2007, worked in the elevator for 42 years doing the book work and government regulatory work.

Vance and Larry separated their partnership a few years after their father, Lyall, died in 1999.

Larry’s other son, Dean, did not go into the family trade but rather went to work in business in Jacksonville, Fla.; Larry and Suzanne also had a foster daughter who did not choose the farming life.

Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension, said that almost all Minnesota farms are family farms.

“These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota’s economy and the vitality of Minnesota’s rural communities,” she said.

In the community, Larry has been involved in church and youth ministry — In fact, Larry said the only other career he considered was becoming a minister.

Larry is also involved in the State Farm Bureau Board, the Mower County Farm Bureau, Mower County Pork Producers, Pork Industry Group of the National Livestock and Meat Board, and Advisory Committee for the U of M Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca.

Larry, along with 72 other farm families, were recognized at Farmfest near Redwood Falls last week.

“It’s been good; Farming’s just the greatest thing in the world,” Larry said.

For more information about the Farm Family Recognition Program, go to