This edition of Ag Innovation News brings you an interview with one of AURI’s newest board members, Kenneth Asp. He brings a wealth of knowledge on wheat and modern farm practices to the organization. If you’d like to learn more about Director Asp, visit the Board of Directors page at auri.org.
AIN: Which agricultural group do you represent?
KA: I represent the state’s wheat growers.
AIN: Please give us some highlights around your ag background.
KA: I grew up on a family farm west of Thief River Falls in Pennington County, graduated from the Aviation Mechanics Program at the Thief River Falls Area Vocational Technical Institute and served 4 years in the Navy before graduating from the University of Minnesota Crookston with a degree in Agricultural Aviation and began farming independently – wheat and field crops – in 1982.
In 1992 I was elected to the Pennington County Farm Service Agency Committee and served until 2004; including 4 years as Chair. Starting in 2002, I was elected to the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council and served 12 years, including 2 years as Chair and 4 years on the Research and Audit Committees for US Wheat Associates.
AIN: What direction do you see value-added agriculture going during the next 3 years?
KA: In the immediate future, I see value-added agriculture continuing to grow the fields of medicine – essentially nutrition – and fuel: biodiesel, ethanol and electricity. That includes alternative ag products and efficiencies, like utilizing products that would otherwise go to waste.
AIN: What do you hope to accomplish during your time on the board?
KA: Greater name recognition, more prominence for wheat products and by-products and enhancing its footprint in the Red River Valley and Northwest Minnesota – those are all areas I am interested in promoting on AURI.
AIN: What are some of AURI’s greatest accomplishments in recent years?
KA: The New Uses Forum last spring highlighted several small companies that got their start by utilizing business plans facilitated by AURI and I see that as our greatest strength. Taking ideas off the drawing board and turning them into a tangible enterprise that creates new uses for ag products and adds to consumption.
AIN: As a leader of AURI, what kind of future collaborations would you like to see the organization undertake?
KA: I have been impressed by the ability of AURI to facilitate collaboration between industry, education and good, old fashioned “Yankee Ingenuity.” In Northwest Minnesota we have seen manufacturing grow from the smallest concept–businesses like Arctic Cat, Polaris, DigiKey and Central Boiler. I would like to see AURI be that same kind of incubator for value-added agriculture.
AIN: What do you see as the AURI Board of Directors’ greatest strength as a group?
KA: As a group: diversity is the greatest strength of AURI – and the ability to set aside the interests of any one group to find a way to benefit the whole.
AIN: Looking forward, what role do you see the Board of Directors playing in the success of AURI?
KA: The Board of Directors is AURI – it is up to the Board to see the staff has the tools and guidance they need to fulfill the mission statement of the Agricultural Utilization and Research Institute.