Grower Spotlight: Gene Fynboh (Brandon, Minnesota)

August 3, 2007

Nowadays, everybody seems to be hopping on the ethanol bandwagon.

It’s a centerpiece for aspiring presidents’ energy stump speeches. Wall Street is looking to Main Street for investment opportunities. And even one-time opponents of the clean burning fuel admit it will be vital to weaning America off its foreign oil dependence.

But for farmers like Gene Fynboh, ethanol was top-of-mind long before it became bandwagon worthy.

Gene is a 4th generation corn and soybean farmer who, for 45 years, has worked the land his great grandfather first cultivated in 1877.

Like his great grandfather, Gene views himself as a pioneer. He was one of the first to break ground in the ethanol industry, becoming a founding member of the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co-op, located in Benson, Minnesota.

The plant has produced corn-based ethanol for 11 years, transforming itself from a struggling startup to a thriving enterprise that’s quickly adding new investors—including his son, Greg, who is excited to take over the Fynboh farm some day.

“Growing energy, not just food, is one of the best things to ever happen to rural America,” Gene said. “Continuing to add value to our crops—and creating ways for farmers to keep more of the value of what they produce—will be the cornerstone to keeping kids on the farm and helping young people break into the farming business.”

That may explain why Gene is so delighted about the farm bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 27.

The House farm bill included a progressive energy title that contains new investments in renewable fuels like ethanol.

Gene and the thousands of other energy farmers now turn their attention to the Senate, which is expected to begin its farm bill deliberation in September.

“If all goes as planned, Greg’s grandchildren will still be around to work the family farm and will be able to tell his children about the great grandfather who broke ground in the energy business,” concluded Gene. “Even better, he’ll be living in an America that doesn’t rely on the Middle East for fuel.”