The Thalmann family is used to having visitors on its farm in Plato, Minn., about an hour west of the Twin Cities. It just so happens that a lot of those visitors over the years have been from other countries.
A 20-member delegation from Taiwan stopped by the Thalmann farm on Saturday. The group was in Minnesota to sign a letter of intent to purchase $3.5 billion in U.S. grown corn and soybeans and wanted an up-close look at a Minnesota farm. The Thalmann farm — with its many acres of crops, pieces of equipment, buildings and storage facilities — was exactly what the group was looking for.
“Being a farmer isn’t all about working the fields. You need to cultivate personal relationships, too,” said Brian Thalmann, who runs the corn and soybean farm that’s been in the family since 1877. Brian also serves on the Minnesota Corn Growers Association board.
“Strong export markets are good for farmers and lead to job creation for the economy overall. Any time we can host one of our trade partners on our farm, we welcome the opportunity.”
Brian’s father, Randall, estimates that over 400 foreign visitors (the first group came from Russia) have passed through the family farm since the late 1970s. In fact, the Thalmanns needed to find a new guest book for the Taiwan delegation to sign on Saturday since their old one was completely full.
After lunch on the farm, Brian and Randall provided an overview of their operation. In addition to growing corn and soybeans, Randall and his father, Arnold, started a seed plant on the farm in the early 1970s.
Thalmann Seeds, Inc. is still going strong today and sells seed corn, soybean alfalfa, oats, spring wheat and winter wheat seed.
While standing underneath one of the farm’s storage bins, Randall and Brian answered questions from the delegation.
“How do you put gas in the combine?” a member of the delegation wondered.
“Well, we don’t drive it to the local gas station,” Randall said to laughter from the group before pointing to the 12,000-gallon fuel storage tank on the farm.
Other questions focused on grain handling, corn drying, crop conditions and the history of agriculture in the area.
Climbing on the farm equipment and having an opportunity to examine an actual corn field are also highlights for any foreign delegation that visits the Thalmann’s farm. The Taiwan delegation was no exception and took in the opportunity to sit in the cab of a combine and pose for pictures next to the Thalmann’s almost-ready-for-harvest corn fields.
“It was another great visit,” Brian said. “They’re welcome back any time.”