JANESVILLE — Local ag retailer Crystal Valley Coop said they are among those in the industry impacted by staff shortages as lawmakers and policy makers toured the farm supply and grain marketing cooperative Friday afternoon.
Compliance and Safety Manager Travis Brekken said the cooperative has around 28 open positions, including equipment operation jobs.
“We’re actively recruiting, advertising, looking to fill those, but have been unable to,” he said.
During a presentation, attendees discussed the importance of introducing the industry to kids as they are deciding what careers to pursue but mentioned roadblocks such as regulations requiring employees to be at least 18 for many opportunities.
DFL Sen. Nick Frentz, of North Mankato, said the workforce issue is one he hears of frequently.
“We have to identify the next generation of farmers,” he said.
“We want to allow the next generation, we want to allow Minnesota teenagers to get a look at agriculture-related fields, find if it’s a good fit.”
The tour comes as the Minnesota Crop Production Retailers, of which Crystal Valley is a member, lays out its policy positions ahead of the next legislative session.
Crystal Valley works with the Minnesota Crop Production Retailers on many legislative issues in the industry.
Brekken said they are also watching legislation surrounding treated seeds in Minnesota and how they are regulated.
On a national level, they are also watching potential requirements coming out of the Endangered Species Act that could have implications for ag retail and product use.
“It may be specific equipment that has to be used. It’s going to be product selection, so we may be able to use a product on one field but won’t be able to use it on the next,” he said.
Brekken also said last session, they worked to support more funding available to help clean up old ag chem facilities or product spills.
“Really what we were after with this today was for it to be educational, to introduce legislators, policy makers to the impacts of ag retail both economically, in employment and just get a better understanding and a visual of what we do day to day, what our business includes and just boots on the ground,” he said.