This quarter, Ag Innovation News highlights one of its newest board members, Jon Veldhouse. In addition to his role on the Board of Directors, Mr. Veldhouse is also currently responsible for identifying and realizing new business opportunities to grow Cargill’s global bio-industrial footprint. Read on to learn more about him, his background and his goals for the future.

AIN:Do you have experience with value-added agriculture?

JV: My experience spans 18 years on a rural Minnesota farm followed by two decades of experience developing and commercializing new technologies in ag industries. I have had the opportunity to work across the globe with people in academic, start-up, and established companies to bring solutions ranging from biofuels, biopolymers, and biochemicals to value added food and feed ingredients. I have a deep expertise in microbial fermentation technologies and the commercial structure that is needed to bring these technologies to reality.

AIN: Please tell our readers a little about your background?

JV: I have a degree in Biotechnology from St Cloud State. Following graduation, I joined Cargill in 1999 as a chemist at its Blair, NE corn milling facility, supporting the manufacture of erythritol. In 2001, I spent two years developing biological pesticides with Encore Technologies before returning to Cargill as part of the NatureWorks joint venture to develop lactic acid fermentation technologies. Following my time at NatureWorks, I spent three years in Cargill’s Cultures and Enzymes business developing products and processes to support the dairy industry. In 2012, I became Principal Scientist within Biotechnology R&D, primarily focusing on advanced yeast development for the fuel ethanol business. In 2014, I became responsible for the Global Fermentation Technology group and a member of the Global Biotechnology R&D leadership team. Finally, in 2016, I joined Cargill Bioindustrial business as Business Development Manager.

AIN: Was there a specific reason you wished to join the AURI Board of Directors?

JV: Yes, I am very passionate about the several opportunities for Minnesota farmers and rural entrepreneurs to identify and leverage technologies and business models that can add value to the region’s agricultural economy.

AIN: What are your goals as a new board member?

JV:  To work with the Executive Director, the Board of Directors and the entirety of AURI to further the mission of creating long term economic benefit for MN through value-added agricultural products.

AIN: What do you want to achieve as a new board member?

JV: To have a positive impact on AURI and be a source of expertise to help enable its mission. I want to make a meaningful contribution to the success of the organization and believe my background can be helpful to advancing opportunities.

AIN: What do you most look forward to in this new position?

JV: Getting to know the people, the strengths and passions of the organization and how I can best support the aspirations of AURI into the future. Technology development in agriculture and the opportunities that await the industry are immeasurable. I am excited to see how AURI enables some of these new opportunities for Minnesota’s agricultural commodities.