Sandager will keep busy as new MCGA president
There will be lots of meetings to attend
By Carol Stender
HILLS, Minn. -- Gene Sandager is the new president of the Minnesota Corn Growers' Association. The Hills-area farmer assumed the post Oct. 1. He has six years experience with the MCGA executive board serving two years as director and four in executive positions.
He credits MCGA's leadership program in helping producers "get clued in" on the issues.
Producers have several opportunities to serve in the organization that also offers several leadership programs.
The MCGA is known as an independent visionary organization that doesn't always agree with the National Corn Growers Association policy. That's something that will continue under Sandager's reign, he said.
"Our organization has a voluntary checkoff, so we listen to the producers," he said. "You have to always go back to the producers and ask, 'Are we making a difference?' That's the leadership of the organization. We are the messengers of what our organization wants but at the same time our resolutions are very important and say what we should do and shouldn't do."
Several issues Sandager said he expects to deal with during his term --locks and dams, trade agreements and the Caribbean Basin Initiative -- are issues past presidents have also worked on, he said.
He'll lobby for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to increase the ethanol blend from 10 percent to 20 percent.
States, such as California, chose to focus on petroleum and MTBEs, while Minnesota sought ethanol production, Sandager said. The move by Minnesota was visionary and has put the state in the drivers seat.
"The governor's 20 percent initiative is where we need to go," he said. "We are in a progressive state. Other states are closer to shipping outlets. We're not. That forces us to look at production, processing and distribution in innovative ways."
Sandager operates a family farm with his younger brother, Mike. The two raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa, operate a trucking firm and are diversified in their investments in wind generation, ethanol and soy.
He said he'll be on call "24-7" when issues arise, and he'll attend numerous meetings at the state and national level. He will rely on his brother and wife to handle the farm and home responsibilities.
Sandager stresses the importance of MCGA's members, who he calls the organization's "heart and soul."
"The biggest emphasis is truly on the people and their leadership abilities," he said. "You look at the Ron Obermollers, the Gerald Tumblesons and the Loren Tusas and those who have put in time into the organization. It's important to keep that going and growing."
Others elected to MCGA's board are vice president Rodney Moe of Waltham; Curt Watson of Renville, treasurer; and Roger Moore of Blue Earth, secretary.