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Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture announces 2013 laureates

March 19, 2013

Media note: Photos of all the winners can be downloaded:

A world-renowned expert in wheat diseases, an executive who developed important new packaging and food safety techniques and a pair of entrepreneurs who lead an international technology company grounded in the poultry industry are this year’s recipients of the prestigious Siehl Prize in Agriculture.

The prize is awarded annually by the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Recipients are chosen in three categories: knowledge (teaching, research and outreach); agribusiness; and production agriculture. This year’s winners are:

Yue Jin (knowledge):  He is among the leaders of two major global projects aimed at stopping the spread of rust in wheat and barley, which is a significant threat to the world’s food supply. His laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cereal Disease Lab on the U of M’s St. Paul campus is a unique resource for testing and analyzing deadly rust samples from around the world. He’s also recognized as a mentor to the next generation of top wheat rust scientists from around the world.

Phillip Minerich (agribusiness): As vice president of research and development at Hormel Foods, he has led innovations in packaging, food technology and food safety during his 36-year career with this Minnesota-based company. His team also is known for its work in hunger relief, as the creator of Spammy™ shelf-stable poultry spread, which is fortified with vitamins and minerals to address childhood malnutrition in Guatemala. The U of M alumnus also has been active in a number of food-industry groups and as an adviser to the U’s food science and nutrition department.

Ted Huisinga and Ray Norling (production agriculture):
The son and nephew of Willmar Poultry Co.’s founders have built the company into a multi-faceted firm with a dozen affiliated companies, all related to the turkey industry. Two of those affiliate companies recently purchased a former state hospital and repurposed it to a high-technology campus aimed at expanding biotechnology, genetics, engineering and agriculture in west-central Minnesota. They’re also well-known in the industry for their active work in food safety and animal health.  

The recipients were announced today as part of the celebration of National Ag Week. They will be honored at a ceremony on May 23 on the university campus.

The Siehl Prize was created in the early 1990s by a generous gift from New Ulm-area livestock breeder and businessman Eldon Siehl, a dedicated philanthropist who had a lifelong interest in agricultural systems. Siehl was concerned that people were losing touch with their agrarian roots and wanted his gift to ensure that achievements in agriculture would be recognized and celebrated.  Recipients receive a $50,000 award as well as a sculpture and lapel pin designed by Minnesota artist Thomas Rose especially for the Siehl Prize. 

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