Dan Glessing, a Wright County farmer who served seven years as vice president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, was elected its president on Friday.
Glessing, a crop and dairy farmer on about 700 acres near Waverly, won a two-way race against Shayne Isane, a farmer from Roseau County. The vote of 94 delegates occurred at the Farm Bureau’s annual convention in Bloomington.
It’s the first time the influential Farm Bureau has appointed a new president in 16 years.
Glessing took office immediately, replacing Kevin Paap, a Blue Earth County corn and soybean farmer who decided not to run again after nearly two decades in the role. The 43-year-old Glessing will serve a two-year term atop the organization, acting as its public face and chief spokesman in policy debates concerning agriculture at the state and federal level.
“We have a great story to tell,” Glessing said as he asked the delegates for support. “Whether we’re telling it to consumers, elected officials or others in the community, if we don’t share what’s going on at our farms and ranches, then they won’t know the care that goes into growing their food and clothing.”
The Minnesota Farm Bureau says it represents about 30,000 dues-paying family farms in the state. The group has an affiliated farm insurance company, which helps drive its membership since only Farm Bureau members can buy its policies.
Both the Minnesota Farm Bureau and its counterpart organization, the Minnesota Farmers Union, are state affiliates of the two leading agricultural public policy groups, the American Farm Bureau and the National Farmer’s Union. Traditionally, the Farm Bureau has leaned more to the right and the Farmers Union more to the left, though the groups often align on issues related to agricultural policymaking, which is often bipartisan.
That was apparent at the convention on Friday, as a parade of prominent Minnesota Democrats including Gov. Tim Walz and Sen. Tina Smith paid tribute to Paap in recorded clips played while votes were counted in the race.
“I have so many fond memories of just hanging out at the Farm Bureau dinners every fall, your visits to Washington where you’d bring new farmers, old farmers and everything in between,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in one clip.
But the American Farm Bureau showed its more conservative alignment this week when it came out against the Build Back Better proposal from Democrats in Washington, while the National Farmers Union supports it.