Jim Kukowski of Strathcona, a longtime certified seed producer and strong advocate for agriculture, has been recognized with the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association’s (MCIA) Achievement in Crop Improvement award. The award was presented at MCIA’s annual meeting, held Jan. 5 in Fergus Falls. It is MCIA’s highest honor and is presented annually to recognize exemplary service to the seed industry as well as outstanding leadership in agriculture and the local community.
Kukowski, along with his wife, Marilyn, have been certified seed growers for more than 30 years, beginning in 1983 as contract growers. They own and operate an MCIA-approved seed conditioning facility, built in 2001. Over the years they have grown certified wheat, barley, and soybean seed. Today, they focus primarily on wheat seed production, distributing high quality seed throughout the Upper Midwest.
Their Roseau County farm is a host site for the University of Minnesota small grain field trials. The location provides yield and agronomic data that is valuable to small grain growers in the area. As Kukowski evaluates the many varieties grown in the trials, the knowledge he gains benefits his own customers.
Kukowski is a passionate and vocal supporter of agriculture and is involved with a number of state and local organizations. As a director for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA), he serves on their Environmental Stewardship action team. As soybean acres grew in northern Minnesota, Kukowski became a top recruiter for MSGA and helped bring The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association’s 114th Annual Meeting, held Jan. 5, 2017 at the Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls, gave members opportunities to meet, make decisions, and exchange information with many other growers. He has also been active in the Minnesota Canola Council and the Minnesota Wheat Growers Association.
Locally, Kukowski served as chairman of the county Farm Services Agency Committee and was appointed to the Minnesota State Technical Committee. This committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Natural Resources Conservation Service on the implementation of the conservation provisions of the farm bill. He is also a longstanding member of the Two Rivers Watershed District Board, which addresses water issues in northwest Minnesota.
During his tenure on the MCIA Board of Directors, Kukowski has served as vice chairman and treasurer and has chaired the Agronomic Standards Committee. With his seed production background and experience with a wide variety of organizations, he brings a valuable perspective to board discussions.
Kukowski credits his wife, Marilyn, for much of their success, saying she is a key part of the seed and farming operation. She does a lot of the seed conditioning and handles the paperwork and record keeping that is required of an approved facility.
The award was presented by MCIA President and CEO Dr. Fawad Shah. Kukowski, joined by his wife, Marilyn, was surprised and honored by the recognition saying, “I greatly appreciate this recognition and have enjoyed my years in the certified seed business.”