Like many in the agriculture industry, Brian Buhr spent much of his life around farming. From growing up on his family’s farm in Denver, Iowa, to working with farmers on economic production measures across Minnesota, to now teaching the next generation of farmers as the Dean of the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), Buhr is passionate about the land and supporting the farmers who tend it.

Q: What is your background in agriculture? 

A: I was born into agriculture like a lot of people, growing up on a farm in northeast Iowa. I went to Iowa State as pre-veterinarian, and I had dual degrees in animal science and economics at that point. This was right in the middle of the Farm Crisis (of the 1980s), and I had an ag law class addressing all the issues of farm credit, farming and agricultural stability. That really moved me from just being in animal science into economics. I worked for the Food Ag Policy Research Institute where we did Farm Bill analysis. We did the original analysis on the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs negotiations, so I got really engaged in agricultural policy. I came to Minnesota in 1992 for a faculty position, where I focused on commodity risk management and price analysis.

Q: What does your current role look like today? 

A: I’m the dean of CFANS and the director of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. We are the center for thinking about the research, new technology innovations and practices that go into agriculture. It’s all about how we remain relevant and timely in our work, addressing issues that are important to Minnesota farmers and agribusinesses. We work across a large scope, engaging with farm organizations, such as the Farm Bureau and commodity organizations. We serve all of Minnesota.

Q: What does it mean to you to teach the next generation of agricultural workers? 

A: When I started working for the University of Minnesota, I used to work with leaders in agriculture to inform my teaching. Now I know the leaders of ag because they were students. I can travel across Minnesota and see their leadership and talent. It’s inspiring in many ways.

Q: How does the CFANS program attract students from across the state and the country? 

A: We’re the only land grant university and ag experiment station in the state. We have 180 acres on the St. Paul campus where we can do a lot of research. We have our animal facilities, greenhouses, and we work with USDA Cereal Disease labs right here in a major metropolitan area. We’re at the center of the leading collection of Fortune 500 agricultural firms in the country. The University of Minnesota is one of five comprehensive universities in the country to include medical school, vet medicine, agriculture, engineering and law school. Students often discover where they want to be while they’re in college. That’s all here, and we have excellent facilities in all those areas.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of agriculture? 

A: I’ve joked that I’ve put on every kind of shoe you could put on for a sport, like water skiing, snow skiing, Nordic skiing, ice skating and hockey.

Did You Know? 

Not only does CFANS teach about food and agricultural production, but the students and faculty members also produce food products on the St. Paul campus. Here are just a few of the locally produced items.

ORGANIC PRODUCE: Student-run farm Cornercopia sells organic produce at farmers markets on the U of M campuses throughout the growing season. 

CHRISTMAS TREES: Beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, students in the Forestry Club sell locally grown trees on the St. Paul campus. 

HONEY: Purchase locally produced honey, beeswax products and student-produced insect art from graduate student group Frenatae. 

MEAT: Beef, lamb, pork, poultry and sausage can be purchased year-round in the salesroom on Wednesdays between 2 and 5 p.m. 

CHEESE AND DAIRY: The Dairy Salesroom is open to the public year-round on Wednesdays between 2 and 5 p.m., where you can find a variety of cheeses, ice cream and frozen yogurt.