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Howard Lake couple win MFBF Achievement Award

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 12/27/2012 8:41 AM

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HOWARD LAKE, Minn. — A Howard Lake couple is bound for Nashville after winning the Minnesota Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award.

Dave and Julie Marquardt first applied for the award last year, when the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting was in Hawaii. The competition was tough and they didn't win, but the judges told them to apply again.

The decided to do just that.

The Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award recognizes farmers for their efforts in agriculture through farm management and leadership achievements as well as effective use of capital in their operations.

State winners advance to national competition at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting. This year's annual meeting is Jan. 12-16 in Nashville.

The Marquardts also receive a recognition plaque, $500 from MFBF and a trip to the MFBF YF&R Conference to be held in Bloomington, Jan. 25-27.

Dave started farming out of high school 16 years ago. He didn't do a whole lot of record keeping and he didn't know his costs.

About the time he and Julie married five years ago, they enrolled in adult farm business management offered through Ridgewater Community and Technical College. Their instructor is Shawn Meyer.

Meyer has been invaluable, Julie said. She came into the operation with an elementary education degree and became the farm's accountant.

Meyer helped her get the farm's records on computer so they can track income and expenses. He's always just a phone call away to answer her questions.

The Marquardts are good managers and fun people to be around and work with, Meyer said.

The couple have leveraged Meyer's expertise to improve their financial oversight.

Every year, they've gotten more in-depth on the numbers, Dave said. This helps him figure out what their bottomline is. He knows how much he puts into every acre and the break even price when he needs to start marketing.

Dave, Julie and his father, Rodney, have a partnership. They run about 1,000 acres of cropland and raise dairy steers, selling about 180 steers a year. The steers are purchased as calves from several dairies.

They raise corn, soybeans and hay.

Julie helps with fieldwork in the spring and fall. She's a jack-of-all-trades in training.

The Marquardts got involved in Farm Bureau about 10 years ago at the suggestion of their neighbors, Dan and Seena Glessing, who are also active in the organization.

Their involvement has been crucial in many ways, Dave said. They were able to meet producers around the state and the nation. That's helpful when it comes to getting different ideas, he said.

In addition to running their farm, Dave and Julie are active in their community.

Dave coaches seventh grade boys basketball at Lester Prairie-Holy Trinity. The boys won their first game of the season last week. They are active at their churches, Dave at Holy Trinity in Winsted and Julie at Good Shepherd Free Lutheran in Cokato. Both are involved in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA alumni chapter and Dave is on the AgStar lending advisory board. Julie is also a substitute teacher at Dassel-Cokato schools.

The couple have two children, Adam, 3, and Brant, 22 months. They are expecting their third child in May.

Winning the MFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award is nice, Julie said.

To her, the award recognizes that they've shown growth in their farm operation, are leaders in agriculture and are always looking for ways to improve.

They worked on updating their application for the national convention Friday. The application has to be in to American Farm Bureau by Dec. 11. Applications from across the nation will be judged and the top 10 announced at the AFBF annual meeting in January.