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North Dakota Corn Growers Association marks 35 years

Farmers from all over North Dakota were in Mapleton Monday, Aug. 8, for a chance to look back and plan ahead.

Tharaldson Ethanol Plant.jpg
Tharaldson Ethanol Plant
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News
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MAPELTON, N.D. — Thirty-five years ago, farmers got together to organize the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. The celebration Monday, Aug. 8, marks the effort years ago to finally get corn growers the market they needed. They think of that every time they drive by an ethanol plant.

Outside the Tharaldson Ethanol plant in Casselton, it's like the Indy 500, with trucks full of corn rolling into the plant and ready to dump the 54 million bushels of corn the plant uses per year.

To think this all started 35 years ago.

"We were struggling to find a market for our corn," said Robert Thompson, one of the founders of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

North Dakota Corn Growers Association promoting ethanol.
Contributed / North Dakota Corn Growers Association

North Dakota corn producers searched for someone, some place to take their crop.


"Everybody was in tune with what was going on, and we just needed to do it, and we did it," Thompson said of the forming of The North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

"We were really looking for some way to get rid of the corn, we were expanding so fast," Thompson added.

They found that way through ethanol producers. It was 1986, and WDAY was there, talking with farmer Robert Thompson, one of the founders back then.

A church in Rollag, Minnesota is preparing for a big celebration this weekend, put on by its five-member congregation.

Old12 (1).jpg
WDAY TV talking with Robert Thompson in 1986 when the group formed.
Contributed / North Dakota Corn Growers Association

These corn growers would take drastic measures to convince people to buy ethanol, even offering them yellow, painted nickels if they would buy ethanol.

When Thompson's father farmed decades ago, they only dreamed of corn harvests like there are today. Thompson is now farming with his twin sons, and there are ethanol plants across the state that process it for the entire country.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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