October 2014 Newsletter




Beginning in early 2015, Ag Ventures Alliance will require existing members to renew their membership annually. This is being done primarily to better keep track of our members contact information, age of our members and what crops and livestock each farmer member raises. This information will help us to better tailor programs and investments to better meet the needs of our members. It will not be provided to anyone other than AgVA staff and board. There will be a nominal renewal fee of $25.00 per year to help defray membership costs.

The renewal form and fee will be due by March 31 of each year. For 2015, a notice and registration form will be sent to all existing members in late December, 2014. This will be followed by reminders in February and March. If the renewal form and $25.00 fee are not received by March 31, a five dollar late fee will be charged for those received in April, ten dollars for those received in May and fifteen dollars for those received in June.

Anyone not renewing by June 30 of each year will be dropped from our registration rolls, will no longer receive mailings or the newsletter and will need to apply as a new member to get re-instated. Like all new memberships, it will need to be approved by the AgVA board of directors and the $250.00 new member fee will need to be paid.


On Monday, October 6, 2014, the new Ag Venture Alliance website went live! Changes include a new look and feel, easier navigation from page to page and the ability to register and pay for AgVA events on line. The site is mobile compatible to fit smart phones and tablets. You will notice a number of new features such as the calendar, latest news and upcoming events. You can apply online to become an AgVA member or find out what ag related companies we have investments in by clicking on “AgVA Portfolio” at the top of the page.

More will be coming in future weeks and months such as our investment criteria and the process we use to make investment decisions, a blog and links to additional sites. Go to the website and see what you think, then contact us at AgVA@agventuresalliance.com to let us know how we can improve it.


Many of you know Ag Ventures Alliance as an organization that invests in worthwhile value added agriculture. But did you know that AgVA also provides grants for ag and food related non-profit organizations in the region? The Education and Research Contributions Program (E&R Program) focuses on agriculture, entrepreneurship and business development that will provide exposure for Ag Ventures Alliance and provide value to AgVA members.

Requests should complement what others are doing and not compete with existing services. The E&R program only provides short term support (one or two years) and should not be relied upon for continuing operations. If possible the non-profit should leverage E&R funds with other financial resources and the impact on community versus individuals will be considered.

The first priority for funding is in counties where most of AgVA members reside and the second priority is Iowa and Southern Minnesota. We will consider organizations outside Iowa and Minnesota if they have merit and we have no applications from the region.

AgVA will not consider requests from political organizations or candidates, sectarian or denominational religious groups, purchase of tickets or items for fund raising events, or dues or memberships. Requests must use the application form found on the AgVA website www.agventuresalliance.com and requests are considered quarterly.

Some of the organizations that AgVA has funded in the past are North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom, Healthy Harvest of North Iowa, Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative at Iowa State University, and Practical Farmers of Iowa.


Since May of 2011 Brad Saeger and Rusty Schmidt have served as half time business development persons for Ag Ventures Alliance. Brad Saeger’s last day was October 2, 2014, and Rusty Schmidt will be leaving AgVA at the end of November. Prior to serving in this capacity Rusty Schmidt served on AgVA’s board of directors. We wish them the best of luck in their new endeavors.

Because of their departure, AgVA is in the process of hiring a new full-time Business Analyst/Member Relations Associate. Among other things, this person will review and analyze proposals submitted to AgVA for our possible investment and work with businesses where we have already made an investment. He/she will also assist in preparation of this newsletter, communicate with prospective and existing members, help develop marketing materials and help with development and management of AgVA events. If you know of someone that may fit what we are seeking please have them go to our website at www.agventuresalliance.com for a copy of the job description or call AgVA at 641-494-2368.


AgVA New Members 

Mark Lenius, Farmer/Agribusiness, Waverly, IA

Jeff & Judy Schutte, Farmer, Readlyn, IA

Don & Joan Sandell, Farmer, Fort Dodge, IA

Gene & Janet Sandell, Retired, Grundy Center, IA

Tim & Sheila Grabau, Farmer, Lime Springs, IA

Charles & Mary Casterton, Retired Farmer, Decorah, IA

 Upcoming Bus Trip

 Join AgVA on our upcoming bus trip scheduled for November 12, 2014.  The bus will leave the old K-Mart parking in Mason City at 8:30 am and head out to the Buckeye Fish Farm in Buckeye, IA, owned by Joe Sweeney.  It is a nearly completed construction of 24 10,000 gallon tank fish farm.  It is a grow out facility from fingerlings to finished weight fish.  Our next stop will be in Webster City, IA, for lunch (which will be provided).  After lunch we will then head to Iowa’s First Fish Farm (Nelson Brothers/Vero Blue) just northeast of Webster City.  They have converted an old hog building into a fish production facility.  They are proud to be one of Iowa’s aquacultural leaders providing farm to table seafood in America’s Heartland.  Their fish are grown in an environmentally friendly and sustainable setting which allows them to consistently produce a high-quality, “green” and fresh product year-round. Then there will be an information meeting to learn about Vero Blue’s expansion plans.  At 3:30 pm the bus will start heading back to Mason City to arrive about 5:00 pm.  The cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members.  You can register by filling out the registration form you received in the mail or by going to our website www.agventuresalliance.com and registering/paying there.

Meet Your Board of Directors

 Bob Cole is a member of AgVA’s board of directors.  He is one of AgVA’s charter members and first joined the board in November 2004.  Bob is one of AgVA’s past Treasurer’s.  He chairs the Education & Research Committee and Audit Committees as well as participating on the Marketing Committee.

Bob and his wife Karen live in Mason City, IA.  They have two daughters, Lori Cole Magerko and Kristin Jauregui.

Bob grew up on his family’s farm just north of Swaledale, IA.  He also was in a family farming operation with his brothers and cousin.  Bob worked for the Iowa State University Extension for 35 years, first as a County Extension Director in Howard County, then as an Assistant Market News Editor, and completed his career with them as a Community and Economic Development Specialist.

Bob served on the USS Constellation (CVA-63) FOR TWO TOURS OFF THE COAST OF Viet Name in 1998 and 1969.  Prior to that, Bob worked at the Farmall plant in Rock Island, IL, from 1965-1967.

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