Pepin County farmers got looks this week at one of the nation’s largest producers of kidney beans and at one of the region’s newest grain-handling facilities when members of the Pepin County Farm Management Club visited Chippewa Valley Bean and the Countryside Cooperative, both in the Menomonie area.
The visits were part of the club’s annual spring tour, a long-standing Pepin County tradition.
“Seventy-plus years, the club has been around, and we’ve been doing this spring farm tour for as long as I can remember – 20-25 years,” said Randy Kollar, one of the tour’s organizers and a management club board member for more than 20 years.
Kollar noted that Chippewa Valley Bean, along county Highway C between Eau Claire and Downsville is the world’s largest exporter of dark red kidney beans. The club toured the facilities about 20 years ago, and tour organizers realized many of the club’s younger members might never have seen the bean company’s facilities.
Chippewa Valley Bean produces high-quality beans and it’s worthwhile to pay attention to that, he said.
“They handle a lot of beans here, and they’re high-quality beans,” Kollar said. “We thought it was time to come back here and check it out again.”
The group also saw Countryside Cooperative’s mineral and feed processing mill that’s been operating near Menomonie for about two years.
He said more than 40 farmers were taking part in the tour.
“We have quite a few dairy farmers in the crowd, because we have quite a few of them in Pepin County, but we have some crop farmers here, too,” Kollar said. “They got out of bed early and got up here in time for the tours.”