Rural Minnesota region pulls itself up by food and farming bootstraps

29 Sep 2016


“It takes about five years before bigger buyers will say, ‘OK, now we’ll do business with you.’”

Central Minnesota farmer Tom Smude speaks from direct experience.

His sunflower cooking oil business is now in the black, with retail and food service distribution across Minnesota and four neighboring states. Bankers and neighbors thought he was “absolutely nuts” when he turned in 2011 to markets for Minnesota-grown and –made foods. His original plan, to produce bio-fuel from sunflowers, tanked with global oil prices.

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