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Farming touches everyone’s life daily, especially in Calhoun County, where 28% of employment (more than 1,700 jobs) comes from crop and livestock production, or ag-related industries. Among these ag businesses are Manson Ag Service, Inc., which has served the area since 2000, and Lauver Farm Solutions, a new venture founded in 2023.  

“Our goal from the beginning has focused on saving farmers money up front and keeping more dollars in the local economy,” said Mark Calmer, a local farmer who co-owns Manson Ag with Ron and Curt Hokinson, who also farm in the Manson area.

Manson Ag Services, Inc. logoManson Ag offers a wide variety of agronomy products and services, including a full line of seed genetics from Beck’s Hybrids (a family-owned seed company built on faith, family and farming), crop protection inputs (brand-name and generic products), dry and liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, lime, gypsum, special orders and custom-application services.

The company serves farmers in a 50-mile radius around Manson. The Manson Ag team includes six full-time employees, three part-time employees and additional help in the busy spring planting and fall harvest seasons. “We’re still a growing company and have job opportunities for agronomists, applicators and more,” Calmer said.

Mindy Rathke, an agronomist, joined Manson Ag in July 2023. “There are so many positives to working for a non-corporate, family-owned business,” she said. “The people here care and treat the employees like family.” 

Ag businesses professionals like Calmer are rooted in the community. “My great-grandfather came to Iowa from Sweden, and I’m the fourth generation to farm and live here. I enjoy helping local customers and giving them options. I also like to support a variety of community projects.”

Taxes generated from local agribusiness and farms grow Calhoun County’s tax base, helping to fund schools, libraries and other services that benefit. local communities. All this drives the multiplier effect, where every dollar spent at local businesses generates more economic growth throughout the community, from job creation to local philanthropy. “With all the consolidation in agribusiness today, there aren’t many places left where you can talk directly with the owner,” Calmer added.  

Along with established ag companies, new ag businesses continue to take root in Calhoun County.

Lauver Farm Solutions logoAndrew and Mary Lauver started their Channel Seed dealership and Lauver Farm Solutions in August 2023 on their farm between Lake City and Rockwell City.

“We’ve worked in the seed industry for more than 15 years collectively, so capitalizing on past experiences to serve our local community through agronomic advice and service is our priority,” said Andrew Lauver, whose family has farmed in Calhoun County for generations. “The community interest and support has been incredible, in terms of local farmers putting their confidence in our commitment to service and our products.”  

Lauver Farm Solutions incorporates seed sales as well as agronomic advice into their new business which offers clients modern genetics and personalized service. 

The Lauvers, who are proud to raise their two daughters in Calhoun County, appreciate this opportunity. “We look forward to serving the local community for years to come,” Andrew Lauver said.

Calhoun County continues to offer a wealth of advantages for additional agribusiness that want to grow in the region. 

The 115-acre Calhoun County Business Park offers a prime location along four-lane Highway 20. 

“We value the productivity and efficiency of modern agriculture, and we're focused on creating opportunity,” said Theresa Hildreth, executive director of Calhoun County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC). “If you’re looking to build a value-added agriculture business or a warehouse/distribution facility, everything you need to succeed is available right here in Calhoun County Iowa.” 

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