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LTE – Suzanne Van Mele – 10-16-2013

Supervisors, Don’t Close the Baldwin Ag Center

This letter is to our county board chair and west end of the county supervisors. I ask that you reconsider the sale of the Baldwin Ag Service and Education Center.

We who are not in the agriculture business may not be aware that farming in this county is a $533 million dollar business that supports 3600 jobs as Town Chair of Erin Prairie and farmer, John VanDyk, explained at a New Richmond area meeting last week.  Most of our farms are east of Hwy 65.  Our Ag center sits in the center of this farming community.  It houses the FSA (Farm Services Agency administering disaster assistance, farm loans, conservation reserve and commodity programs) as well as state and county offices including 4H, University Extension, county land and water conservation and more.  There are numerous meetings held here for these agencies. This 15 year old building was built specifically for serving our multi-million dollar ag business.  There are other ag related businesses in Baldwin, Ag Star, the feed mill, Value implement, Gregerson’s Hardware, some locating in Baldwin recently and all depending  on farm business.  It’s a one stop shop for farmers that has been in place for many years. Moving it to Hudson hurts our farmers and Baldwin ag businesses, not justifying selling it to pay for rehabbing the county’s purchase of the vacant New Richmond County Market into offices for HHS.  My hope is that you reconsider and renegotiate the lease for FSA which had been $12 per square foot and was increased to $24 down to a reasonable lease price which would cover the FSA’s fair share of the $55,000 maintenance cost of the building and keep this valuable tenant serving our farmers. Please keep the Ag Center in Baldwin.

Suzanne Van Mele