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Arndts named top farm family

Arndt, farm family, owatonna, steele county
Front row: Ethan Anil, Illyda Anil, Callie, Holly, Trevor Arndt. Middle row: Gokhan Anil, Donna, Irwin, Sam Arndt. Back row: Staci Anil, Steve, Sharon, Adam Arndt.

The Arndt family of Owatonna has been named Steele County’s “2024 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota.

Irwin and Donna Arndt started the Arndt Family Farm in 1955. They operated a small dairy herd, farrowed and finished pigs, raised crops, and their 10 kids.

After graduating at 17, Irwin's son, Steve, joined the farm and not long after, his brother, Ken, did as well. In 1980, the dairy herd was expanded to 100 milk cows in a tie-stall barn and the boys added more row crop acres to the operation.

Ten years later, Steve and Ken purchased the home farm from Irwin and Donna and continued the dairy and crops operation with the help of Steve's wife, Sharon, and their children Adam, Staci and Kyle.

In 2011, the families decided to sell the dairy herd and a beef herd was added in its place. After Steve's passing in 2022, Adam began taking ownership of the operation alongside his uncle, Ken.

Today, Ken, Adam, and Sharon along with Adam's wife, Holly, and their children Callie, Sam, and Trevor, operate the Arndt Family Farm. They continue to raise beef cattle and grow crops and added some new farming techniques including strip till.

Ken and Adam handle the day-to-day operations including planting, harvesting, and hauling the grain along with caring for the beef herd. Adam also holds an off-farm job with the Steele County Soil and Water Conservation District. Sharon keeps the books up-to-date and fills in wherever needed; she has been very instrumental in the farm's operation over the years. Ken and Steve's younger brother, Irwin Jr. helps in the spring and fall with field work and provides valuable agronomic advice. Holly works off the farm but helps whenever and wherever she can.

Family members were involved with the Steele County American Dairy Association and participated in the DHIA program when the dairy was in operation. Adam, Staci, and Kyle were active 4-H members showing dairy cattle at the county and state fair along with poultry and a host of other projects. Adam's children Callie, Sam and Trevor are carrying on the 4-H tradition.

Steve and Sharon have been very active at St. John Lutheran Church, both holding council positions over the years. Holly has also served on the council as the children and family youth chair. Adam is a promoter and educator of conservation in his role at the Soil and Water Conservation office and attends many speaking events throughout the year.

In 2011, the Arndts were honored with the Conservation Farmer of the Year award from the Steele County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The families will be officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 8 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls. Profiles of the 2024 honorees can be found on the University’s farm family website,

Honored families are chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to their communities and to enhancing and supporting agriculture.

“These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of the University of Minnesota Extension. “The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.”

Along with Farmfest, University units sponsoring the recognition event include the University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Farmfest runs Aug. 6-8 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls. Event hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 in advance or $10 at the gate and those 17 and under are admitted free. More information on Farmfest is available at

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