Beekman headed to state job in St. Paul
“If you’re going to move up, move quickly,” advises Kevin Beekman.
After 22 years as the County Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency (USDA/FSA) in Blue Earth, Beekman is leaving his post to become the Chief Program Specialist with the USDA in St. Paul, effective Dec. 8.
Looking back, Beekman started the training program in November 1987, succeeding Rich Bauer as the County Executive Director of FSA. He officially began his duties in Blue Earth in June of 1988 when the office was located near the Green Giant statue.
The offices then moved to the Ag Center in 1993. This location is easier to access, has more parking space available and during the busy times when the farmers are not in the field, the producers and customers can wait comfortably in the Atrium.
“My office in Blue Earth has been wide ranging,” says Beekman of his work with the county’s farmers.
Currently, Beekman’s office is responsible for the delivery of all the Federal farm programs to Faribault County farmers. The FSA also works with those signing up for the Direct Encounter Cyclical Program (DCP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), grain loans, facility loans and for conservation services.
“The local office handles between 25 to 35 million dollars of which about 85 percent are loans paid back with interest,” says Beekman.
“Part of my job here has been to see whether people are eligible for loans and they pay them back in a timely manner,” says Beekman.
“My new job will be narrowed to just one department of what I do now,” Beekman explains. He primarily will be concentrating on grain and facility loans and his direct customers will be the various county FSA offices throughout the state.
Beekman’s job in St. Paul will indirectly affect farmers. Befriending the local farmers over the past 22 years is one area Beekman will miss.
“I have become rooted down,” says Beekman. The move is a hard one for him, but the idea of new challenges and advancement could not be denied.
While residing in Faribault County, Beekman has coached junior varsity football and worked with the varsity linemen since 1993. He also has been a member of the Minn-Iowa Golf Board and has participated in the annual KBEW/Darling International You Can Make a Difference Campout for the past 11 years.
“I’ve probably enjoyed the Campout and football the best,” summarizes Beekman of his community involvements.
“I will never forget the year a grandmother and granddaughter came to us to donate money to the Campout. The granddaughter had found some money on the street and wanted to give it back so it could help someone in need,” he recalls.
“The school has been wonderful with this project too, especially when you consider it is the children who are giving their dimes, nickels and quarters to help others.”
But all good things must come to an end, as Beekman looks at a career and location change. He is ready for change and sees it as a challenge.
“On Nov. 3 I interviewed for this position and later that day I was offered the job,” recalls Beekman.
“It’s been a whirlwind of activity for me ever since,” he says. “I think it is one of the fastest months that I have ever had.”
Not only is he wrapping up his own duties here, but he is also helping move the USDA Service Center office into the former Ag Star site.
“We needed more space,” he explains. “We added three more staff services.”
Currently the office is staffed by five members.
“Four of the five staff members have been with me since I started,” says Beekman. He calculates the combined years of staff experience to 112 years of service. Area farmers need not worry about the transition with such expertise he adds.
Other big changes awaiting Beekman in St. Paul are having a staff of two instead of his current five, and instead of worrying about the four borders in Faribault County, his worries will now extend to the four boundaries of Minnesota.
“I’m excited for the changes I’ll be facing,” says Beekman, “but I’m sad in leaving this area I’ve grown so fond of.”
“I feel like the Clampetts are moving to Beverly Hills,” sums up a grinning Beekman.