The Torkelson family of Pine River was named Cass County's 2021 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.
Marlin and Kathy Torkelson's farm has been in the family for 75 years. Marlin's parents, Hjalmer and Leona, purchased the homestead of 120 acres in 1946. The following year they built a dairy barn and started milking cows.
Marlin began milking in 1970 and at his peak was milking 60 cows after additions were made to the original barn. For several years in the 1970s, Marlin also raised Herefords.
In 1979, Marlin and Kathy purchased the farm. Marlin milked until 1992, when his knees began to bother him from all the years of milking. It was then the Toreklsons traded their dairy cows for beef heifers.
The beef operation began with 50 black Angus heifers. The farm has grown to 1,400 acres with 11 land transactions and 1,200 rented acres. The Torkelsons' son, Eric, started buying cows at age 13 and now has a herd of his own.
In 2014, Torkelson Cattle Company LLC was born.
Marlin and Eric take care of 350 cows and background the calves. They grow corn, oats and hay. Kathy helps when time allows driving tractors, working with the cattle, bringing food to the fields, running for parts and other tasks. Kathy also works full time at Pine River Dental Arts.
Marlin continues to serve on the Wilson Township Board as a supervisor, a position he's held for more than 35 years. He served on the Crow Wing/Cass County FSA committee and is a past board member of the Land O' Lakes board.
Kathy is a member of the Pine River Garden Club and serves as secretary/meeting coordinator. The Torkelsons are members of the Baptist church in Pequot Lakes.
The families will be officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 5, at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls. Profiles of the 2021 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the university's farm family website, https://z.umn.edu/farm-families-year.
Honored families are chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to their communities and to enhancing and supporting agriculture.
"These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities," Bev Durgan, dean of University of Minnesota Extension, said in a news release. "The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities."
Along with Farmfest, university units sponsoring the recognition event include University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Farmfest runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 3-5 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls. Admission is $8 in advance or $10 at the gate and those 17 and under are admitted free. More information on Farmfest is available at https://www.ideaggroup.com/farmfest.