Minnesota Soybean Business

MSGA Did You Know? Catching up with Kim Larson

November-December 2020

Kim Larson never aspired to be MSGA president. Things just progressed that way.

In the early 1990s, Larson’s peers elected him MSGA secretary. When his friend Mike Yost was elevated to president, Yost nominated Larson for MSGA vice president.

“That wasn’t even on my radar,” he said. “I was shocked. But sometimes that’s the best way.”

Yost said he had confidence in his friend and colleague.

“I knew he would do a good job, and he did do a good job,” he said.

Larson accepted the VP position, and was elevated to president in 1992. He’d previously served on the Kandiyohi County Growers Board and moved to the state board in 1988 while raising corn and soybeans on his family farm in Willmar. He became the founding director of the Minnesota Corn Processors Cooperative and felt it was time to serve as an advocate for farmers.

“I saw the need for farmers to take things into their own hands and be responsible for focusing on the direction of ag in our region,” he said. “I heard about MSGA, and I strongly felt policy is where things happen good and bad. You have to have a voice, and I felt MSGA was a voice I wanted to get involved in.”

Kim Larson (right) and his wife, Debbie, have four children and six grandchildren.

Under Larson’s leadership, MSGA set the foundation for progress in the early 1990s at a time when the country saw a drop in crushing plants. Promoting the use of biodiesel and international trade thus became top priorities for MSGA. During his term as vice president and president, MSGA lobbied for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – “It was huge for soybeans,” Larson said – and helped spotlight the need for trade, especially with China. Larson saw the potential.

“In terms of soybean prices, we have to look to the future,” he said in 1998, “and the future is China.”

At the state level, Larson helped successfully advocate for property tax relief during a meeting with then-Gov. Arnie Carlson.

“Property tax relief was a big issue that had become a stranglehold on farmland,” he said. “We became a major voice on property tax reform. Gov. Carlson listened to us as farmers, and we got his support.”

After a year as president, Larson was appointed to the American Soybean Association, where he served as membership chair.

“I always pressed for membership,” he said. “When you tell these legislators that you represent all soybean farmers, you want to able to say your membership is strong.”

After serving two full terms at ASA, Larson stepped aside in 2000 to make room for incoming leaders.

“I’ve always believed it’s better to have new involvement,” he said.

Larson remains heavily involved in a local economic development committee and is starting a transition with his son, Joshua, on their sixth-generation family farm. Over the years, he’s worked to not take agriculture issues personally, embracing the benefits of finding common ground.

“I was very defensive about anything that was negative against agriculture,” he said, “but one of the things I’ve learned is we have to work and compromise to keep our credibility. We can all do better.”


Please add me to the Soybean Business Magazine list: