Senator visits Caledonia employer
Thursday, July 24, 2014 4:06 PM
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar made a swing through southeastern Minnesota on Friday, July 18 — including a stop in Houston County.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar meets Sno Pac employee Christy Dietz
Winona, Red Wing, Caledonia, and Lanesboro were all on the agenda. The Caledonia portion of the visit featured a tour of Sno Pac Foods, a grower and processor of organic fruits and vegetables.
Klobuchar began the day in Red Wing, where she toured Vasque, the outdoor division retail store associated with Red Wing Shoe Company. Moving on to Winona, she attended the groundbreaking of the Winona Bridge Project. The senator’s staff reported that Klobuchar was instrumental in securing $71 million in federal funding for that undertaking, which will not only construct a new bridge across the Mississippi, but rehabilitate and reconstruct an existing historical span.
Caledonia came next, where Klobuchar spoke with company president Peter Gengler about the steady growth that Sno Pac has enjoyed. The tour wound up in Lanesboro, where the Senator was set to visit the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Office and meet with local officials.
“We farm over 3000 acres, and contract for about another 1500 acres locally,” Gengler said. He later noted that when his grandfather decided to grow organic produce to avoid chemical applications on food, “A lot of people thought he was a little crazy.” That was immediately following the second world war.
“So you were organic before organic was cool?” Klobuchar asked. Gengler agreed, and pointed out a company T-shirt that proclaimed that exact message.
In spite of doubters, the business flourished. Representing the fourth generation of his family to lead the company, Gengler explained that people who are sensitive to chemicals have sought organic produce for decades.
Sno Pac organic products include whole kernel corn, cut green beans, green peas, mixed vegetables, sweet beans, and cut leaf spinach. There are organic southern style hash browns, peas and carrots, broccoli cuts. Edamame, organic blueberries, strawberries, whole cranberries, and organic juice concentrates.
With distributors throughout the US and Canada, the business has more than doubled its size in the last decade. Gengler reported that a recent order even came from Saudi Arabia.
“We’re doing really well in the Midwest,” he added. “But we sell our retail brand across the U.S.
Klobuchar said that she worked to get coverage for producers of fruits and vegetables into the federal farm bill.