Three new directors have been added to the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) Board of Directors. They begin their terms immediately.
• Rick Schwarck, Saint Ansgar, Iowa. Schwarck was raised on a family farm in Mitchell County, Iowa, and is still involved in its operation. He has served as the president, chairman and CEO of Absolute Energy, LLC, an ethanol plant located near St. Ansgar. Prior to co-founding Absolute Energy, Schwarck had a 30-year financial services career and was co-owner of the Schwarck Agency, an insurance and investment firm. He was a registered representative of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He also served on numerous boards, including the Renewable Products Marketing Group, Growth Energy and America’s Renewable Future. He was the secretary of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, and founder of Further Fuels LLC. He is involved in numerous other activities in support of agriculture and the ethanol industry. He and his wife, Holly, have four children.
• Michael Yost, Murdock, Minn. He is president and owner of Yost Farms, near Murdock. Yost is a past president of the American Soybean Association, and served as an administrator of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service from 2006-2009, advising the Secretary and Under Secretary on international agricultural issues. Prior to that, he worked as an associate administrator at the USDA Farm Service Agency, and as a senior grain merchant at the Pillsbury Company. He has served on the Rabo AgriFinance Ag Advisory Board since 2012. He has been on several other boards, including Dow Agro Science, USDA/DOE Biomass, National Biodiesel, USDA Biotech Advisory and American Oilseed Coalition. He has been honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Soybean Association, the Superior Service Award from the USDA, the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics and the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota. He lives on a fourth generation farm near Murdock.
• Jack Gerhardt, Class VII representative (non-voting), Fairmont, Minn. Gerhardt has extensive off-farm business experience in sales, financial markets, product management, sales management and general business management in domestic and international markets. He moved back to Fairmont from Chicago in 1997 to pursue his ag interests, and, in cooperation with other family members, has developed interests in hog production, livestock facility management, crop production and small wind power generation. His operations have been recognized for leading edge adoption of technology as well as for being environmentally sensitive. He is a regional manager for C&B Operations, LLC, which owns and operates 24 John Deere dealerships in five Upper Midwest states. Gerhardt studied Ag Economics at the University of Wisconsin, and received his master’s in Economics at Colorado School of Mines.
MARL’s mission is to develop the skills of Minnesota agricultural and rural leaders so they may maximize their impact and effectiveness in local, state, national and international areas. Each class is comprised of 30 participants, with two-thirds being active in agricultural production and the other third involved with agribusiness.