Torch is being passed at Northern Crops Institute

Mark Weber made the road trip from Fargo to Pierre this week and attended the South Dakota Wheat Commission meeting Monday.

He is retiring at the end of December after six years as director for the Northern Crops Institute at North Dakota State University.

His successor will be Mark Jirek.

Jirek has a bachelor degree in agricultural economics from NDSU, a master degree in agricultural economics from University of Illinois and seventeen years at Cargill.

Weber told commissioners Monday he understood the difficulty, given low production last summer, of South Dakota’s paying $25,000 to the institute.

“We’ve had a good run and NCI is in good shape,” Weber said.

Commission chairman Clint Vanneman of Ideal told Weber his work was noted. “You’ve been a great friend,” Vanneman said. “It really is appreciated.”

Commissioner Chet Edinger of Mitchell has served on the institute’s governing council and commissioner Tregg Cronin of Gettysburg is now council vice chairman.

According to the institute’s web site, council members represent wheat, barley, corn, soybeans, oilseeds and dry-beans producers as well as North Dakota State University, the North Dakota Agriculture Department and private companies such as General Mills.

“The council sets policy and is responsible for working with the staff in long-range planning,” the site said.

The institute’s purpose is providing educational and technical programs that encourage domestic and international markets.

Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota fund its operations. So do commodity organizations in those states and Montana.

Weber, who farmed at Casselton, N.D., has a bachelor degree in mechanized agriculture and agronomy and a master degree in agricultural economics. Both are from NDSU.

Prior to becoming director for the institute, Weber was executive director for Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association 12 years and the first executive director for North Dakota Soybean Council and Growers Association more than five years.

A photo of Weber and Jirek is here.