Name & Title: Carolyn Olson, farmer, co/owner
Organization Name: Olson Organics of Cottonwood
What industry/sector do you identify with? Organic and Conventional agriculture. We are farmers, growing organic crops and conventional pigs.
Number of employees, member patrons, growers, shareholders etc. in Minnesota: My husband, Jonathan, and I have two full time employees, and 10-20 part time employees in the summer.
What about your organization or company’s work are you most proud of? We are proud of our farm and the many great relationships we have built over the years with our peers, seed and cultivator customers, grain buyers, consumers, and everyone in-between. We have worked hard to promote organics and mentor other farmers interested in farming organically. As organic farmers, we do things differently than our neighbors, but we also value the diversity in agriculture and believe a strong farm economy relies on that diversity. Carolyn has been active in promoting agriculture in many ways, including serving on the Minnesota Farm Bureau and Agriculture Utilization Research Institute boards.
Please highlight key trends affecting your industry? Agriculture's role in the climate change and sustainability conversations, carbon credits, and the impacts of changes to estate taxes and the stepped-up basis on farm succession planning is on farmers' minds. The ability to tell our sustainability stories and share how proposed legislation will affect our farms is crucial right now.
Talk about the key opportunities & challenges facing your business over the next 5 years. Bridging the gap between farmers, grain buyers, and companies regarding sustainability goals has been a challenge. It is also an opportunity to look at how we can create relationships that bring us to the table for these conversations.
The organic industry is still young. Market opportunities for organic crops continue to expand, but with that comes the need for research that covers more than the basics of soil health and weed control. Consumers are looking for studies relating to nutrition, overall health, and sustainability as well. Funding and finding the right program to do the research is an issue.