50 for 50: R.D. Offutt

Published online: Jan 04, 2021 Articles, 50 for 50, Grower of the Month Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition.

R.D. Offutt

Ron Offutt

In the early 1960s, Ron Offutt partnered with his father to grow potatoes. The initial idea for R.D. Offutt Farms began when Ron saw the opportunity to produce more uniform potatoes by developing irrigation and growing in Minnesota’s sandier soils. It didn’t take long for Ron to recognize the need for a consistent demand for his potatoes. Before long, he decided to enter the processing side of the business and purchased a small french fry factory. 

Today, the Fargo, N.D.-based R.D. Offutt Farms remains family-owned and –operated. It has grown to include farming operations that produce more than 50,000 acres of potatoes each year. Ron’s daughter Christi is now company chair, while his son-in-law Keith McGovern serves as president. Ron maintains a prominent role in the company as chairman emeritus, 

As a local business and employer, R.D. Offutt Farms takes pride in its commitment to responsible and sustainable growing practices. The company’s operations have continually scored above the industry average in assessments and have annually been recognized for their sustainable practices. With help from agronomy and scientific partners, R.D. Offutt uses the most up-to-date forecasting models to determine the ideal combination of timing and inputs by using weather, crop and disease progression data, and has made a point to reduce the number of fungicide applications in fields identified as environmentally sensitive.

As a family business, R.D. Offutt Farms remains driven by integrity and humility, using these attributes as the foundation for all of its operations. Employees at all levels of the business are encouraged to make their own decisions, to find solutions for their customers, to celebrate team and individual successes, and to be innovative and entrepreneurial.