Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Bricelyn couple earns Achievement Award

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 12/16/2010 10:36 AM

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BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — Faribault County farmers Andy and Kirsten Lorenz earned the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award.

The award was announced Nov. 20 at the 92nd annual Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting.

The couple have an 80-cow organic dairy and they market their milk to Organic Valley. They operate 250 acres, raising corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They also rotationally graze the dairy herd. They grow almost all their own feed.

In 2003, the couple joined Farm Bureau and applied for the YF&R Achievement Award, but didn't win. In the years since, they've participated more in Farm Bureau activities and have continued to develop their farming operation.

This year, they were selected to receive the Achievement Award. Achievement Award contestants are selected based on their exceptional efforts in agriculture through farm management and leadership achievements as well as effective use of capital in their farming operation.

They advance to natioinal competition with an all-expense paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Altanta Jan. 8-12. They also received a recognition plaque from MFBF, $500 from Dodge and a trip to the MFBF YF&R Conference in Duluth, Jan. 28-30.

Other finalists were Kevin and Stacy Thoeny of Ogilvie and Doug and TaLana Mathiowetz of Morgan.

"It was pretty exciting to win," said Andy, a fifth generation farmer.

The couple have been organic dairy producers for one year, following a three-year transition. Andy said they decided to go organic for several reasons, including the fact being organic allowed them to earn more income with fewer cows. The milk price is set at the beginning of the year for

the year, he said.

They have rotationally grazed their cattle since the 1990s and their farm has leaned toward low chemical use for years.

There are three area organic farmers who have offered them advice and guidance as they've moved from conventional to organic production.

Andy does most of the milking and all of the feeding of the cows. Kirsten does the farm books and pays the bills. She also works off-the-farm as a pharmacy technican and serves on the local ambulance crew.

They have three children, ages 7, 4 and 23 months.