St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf alumnus and his family host farm visit by President Biden

President Joe Biden talks with the Kluver family of Dutch Creek Farms, including (from left) St. Olaf alumnus Robby Kluver ’08, Nancy Kluver, Brad Kluver, and Rusty Kluver. Photo by Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via Getty Images

When President Joe Biden visited Minnesota on November 1, his first stop was at a family farm in Northfield. There he met with the multigenerational farmers at the heart of Dutch Creek Farms — including St. Olaf College alumnus Robby Kluver ’08.

Kluver works on the farm alongside his brother, Brad, and parents, Nancy and Rusty. They welcomed the president to their farm for an event that focused on the importance of supporting the rural economy.

CBS News notes that Dutch Creek Farms uses climate-smart agriculture techniques that make it more sustainable. The news outlet notes that “new federal investments will support those practices and others across the country, which Biden argued will support small towns and their local economies and empower people to stay in those places.”

Kluver says the president’s visit to Northfield enabled him to share his perspective on the needs of family farmers. “I was able to be face-to-face with the president for about 15 minutes,” Kluver says. “I got to share a few stories as well.”

President Biden talks with the Kluver family, including Robby Kluver '08 (far right), and delivers a speech in the machine shed at Dutch Creek Farms.
President Biden talks with the Kluver family, including Robby Kluver ’08 (far right), and delivers a speech in the machine shed at Dutch Creek Farms.

In this St. Olaf News Q&A, Kluver shares more about his family farm, how his St. Olaf education prepared him to pursue a graduate degree in agronomy and plant genetics, and what he wants non-farmers to know about the needs and challenges of farmers.

How long has your family owned and operated Kluver Farms?
My grandparents, Robert and Arlene Kluver, purchased the farm in 1957.

What crops/livestock does your family grow?
We primarily grow corn and soybeans. We also produce our own hybrid seed corn for planting. We do some forage (hay) harvesting for our livestock. Our largest livestock operation is raising hogs. But we also have some cattle, sheep, and poultry.

How has Kluver Farms focused on sustainability and innovative farming practices?
We tend to focus our management practices around maintaining the land for future seasons. We implement a lot of conservation tillage practices in addition to utilizing cover crops to help maintain soil health. We have buffers around waterways to aid in retention of nutrients in the field and prevent loss.

President Biden speaks at the Kluver family farm during his visit on November 1.

You majored in biology and mathematics at St. Olaf. How did your experience at St. Olaf prepare you for the work you do now?
After completing my degree at St. Olaf I went to the University of Minnesota to obtain a master’s degree in agronomy and plant genetics. My St. Olaf career was excellent preparation for grad school. Many of the St. Olaf courses I took had near grad-level content. St. Olaf helped to mold me into an individual who utilizes scientific studies and publications in my everyday farming career to further my knowledge and practices.

After grad school I went to work in the corn and soybean breeding research and development groups at Monsanto (Bayer) for over a decade. In 2020 I switched industries for my day job and went to work at Sheldahl in Northfield as a quality engineer. Shortly after leaving work in the seed industry, I decided to start my own business producing and selling my own seed corn varieties in addition to utilizing them on my own farm.

What is the most important thing that you would share with non-farmers about the needs and challenges of farmers — particularly the new generation of younger farmers?
One of the biggest challenges is keeping the farm operations profitable with the high costs of inputs we have today. The amount of money made from farming doesn’t produce enough money to live on, and its unpredictability due to uncontrollable factors like the weather make it necessary to have a day job in addition to farm operations. I think the most important thing non-farmers can do to help support is obtaining good knowledge and understanding about the principles and constraints in farming.