Minnesota Crop Improvement Association presents awards

Minnesota Crop Improvement Association
Farm Forum

Keith Chisholm, a long-time certified seed producer on a Minnesota Century Farm; Brent Benike, an expert in grass seed production and conditioning; Perry Ellingson, a producer of high quality certified wheat seed for over 30 years; Brent and Bryant Haugrud, brothers in a multi-generation family farm that has produced Foundation seed for many years; and James Anderson, a gifted University of Minnesota plant breeder recognized in the classroom and field; were honored by the members of the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA). The awards were presented during the MCIA Annual Meeting held Jan. 10 in Fergus Falls.

Achievement in Crop Improvement Award

Keith Chisholm of Gary was recognized with the Achievement in Crop Improvement award for his dedication to the certified seed industry and commitment to agriculture. Keith has spent a lifetime producing Certified seed and seeking ways to diversify his farming and business operation. He has produced a variety of certified seed crops including wheat, barley, oats, soybeans, and edible beans. In addition to seed, he worked to increase the value of locally grown agricultural products including the production and export of food grade soybeans.

In his career he has built two MCIA Approved Seed Conditioning Plants. At his current facility, Star of the North, he conditions certified seed and processes edible beans. A past MCIA board member, Keith has also been active in a number of local organizations, including over 40 years as part of the Norman County Crop Improvement and its Annual Crop show. The award is MCIA’s highest honor and is presented annually to recognize exemplary service by an individual to the agriculture and the seed industry.

Premier and Honorary Premier Seedsman Awards

Brent Benike, Perry Ellingson, and Brent and Bryant Haugrud received Premier Seedsman Awards. The award, presented annually since 1929, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the production and promotion of high quality certified seed and have been active in the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association and their local community. James Anderson received the Honorary Premier Seedsman award, established in 1930 to recognize individuals who demonstrate outstanding support of agriculture and MCIA but who may not be directly involved in the seed industry.

Brent Benike of Birchdale in Kanabec county has been involved in the certified seed industry all of his life. Brent is currently the general manager at Northern Excellence Seed LLC, a grower based business involved in the production of turf grass seed. Responsible for contracting, conditioning, and marketing, he is dedicated to the success of grass seed producers in Minnesota. Prior to moving north, Brent worked as hybrid seed corn area production manager in the Dassel/Cokato area. Brent also farms with his brothers, Ross and Kent, as Benike Farms, Inc. Brent has been a longtime member and supporter of MCIA. He served on the MCIA Board of Directors for six years.

Perry Ellingson of Borup has lived on his family’s farm in Minnesota’s Red River Valley his entire life. Ellingson has been a certified seed grower and member of MCIA for over 30 years. Focusing on wheat, he took great pride in producing high quality Certified seed. He has dedicated many years to several ag organizations including the Norman County Crop Improvement, the Perley Community Co-op Board, and the Norman County Agricultural Society. Recently retired from farming, Perry remains involved in agriculture, lending a hand to neighbors during the planting and harvest seasons, and restoring vintage tractors. He is also an ardent supporter of 4-H and the county fair.

Brent and Bryant Haugrud of Rothsay are brothers who were raised on the Haugrud Seed farm, which has been producing Certified seed for nearly 60 years. Brent is the primary mechanic and engineer on the farm. Bryant is responsible for the seed business operations. They have produced a wide variety of Certified seed crops; today they produce primarily wheat and soybean seed. Growing seed of University-developed varieties as well seed for private companies, the family also operates an MCIA Approved Conditioning facility. Haugrud’s have cooperated with MCIA to produce Foundation seed for many years, and have been involved in the Wilkin County Crop Improvement organization.

James Anderson, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, received the Honorary Premier Seedsman award, presented to individuals who demonstrate outstanding support of agriculture and MCIA but are not directly involved in the seed industry. With strong support from Minnesota wheat growers, the efforts of Anderson and a team of university researchers has resulted in the release of several very productive wheat varieties, including Linkert, the most widely grown variety in Minnesota in 2017. Other recent releases that posses traits beneficial to farmers include Bolles, Shelly, and Lang-MN. Anderson is an internationally recognized expert in plant genetics and a strong supporter of MCIA. A regular presenter at field days and grower meetings he is well known to farmers and seed producers.

In addition to the awards luncheon, seed producers and processors from around the state participated in an educational program, business meeting, and industry trade show. For more information contact MCIA at 800-510-6242 or visit online at