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Al and Beth Bester are county's Farm Family of the Year

The University of Minnesota has named the Al and Beth Bester family of Hampton Dakota County's "2010 Farm Family of the Year." The Besters were recognized locally Tuesday, July 13, at the Dakota County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Al was raised on a farm in Rosemount that was originally bought by his grandfather in 1919. Throughout his childhood, he helped his father on the farm. In 1988, after studying at Dakota County Technical College, Al married Beth and they bought their current farm in Hampton.

Today, Al and Beth Bester farm with Al's dad, with a friend in partnership and own 550 acres of cropland growing wheat, corn, soybeans, and hay. They also milk 55 cows.

The Besters have two children, Jessie and Matt. Both are studying agriculture in college.

The Besters are one of 72 farm families from around the state, one from each participating county, being honored by the University this year.

Beth Bester is a member of the Randolph Athletic Boosters, Dakota County DHIA, Dakota County ADA, and U of M Rosemount Research and Outreach Center Advisory Board.

The families will participate in a statewide recognition on Thursday, Aug. 5, at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn. Families receiving honors have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agriculture production.

"Almost all Minnesota farms are family farms," said Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension. "These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities. The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contribution to agriculture and their communities."

Along with Farmfest, University units sponsoring the recognition event include University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Farmfest runs Aug. 3-5 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls.

Washington County honors the Tanks

Brothers Gordy and Myron have been farming together for the past 25 years on a diversified corn and soybean farm in southern Washington County. Their goal is to use technology to improve production while keeping the environment safe. Some of the practices they have used include a GPS to monitor and map out yield variability. They have also used grid soil sampling, which has allowed them to vary fertilizer from one field to the next. Recently, Gordy and Myron converted their farm's irrigation systems to low pressure to conserve energy.

In addition to the crops, they have a family business of a summer sweet corn stand and fall pumpkin and produce business. Tank's Corner Store has provided the Tank's fourth generation an opportunity to further diversify the farm business and to help educate suburban neighbors about agriculture. Gordy and Bonnie have two adult children who both live away from the farm. Myron and Linda also have two children.

Community involvement is a strong tradition for the Tanks. Gordy is involved in the German Farmers Mutual Insurance Company and the Dakota Washington FSA. Both Gordy and Bonnie have been active volunteers in Washington County 4-H and active members of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hastings.

Myron is involved with River Country Cooperative, Washington County Extension Committee, Washington Co. 4-H Livestock Committee, and St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Council. Linda has had a long career with CHS Inc. She also is active in the family's church and volunteering for 4-H.