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Albert Lea Seed

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Committed to Midwestern Oats

By Jessie VanderPoel, Grain Millers

There is a lot to love about oats these days. You can’t go to a restaurant that doesn’t offer oats in some form or another. They’re nutritious, naturally gluten-free and a great crop to have in your rotation from an environmental standpoint. It’s a perfect, positive storm.

At Grain Millers, we mill both conventional and organic oats for the food industry. For many years, we’ve been sourcing our oats from Canada, largely because farmers in the Midwest simply weren’t growing them anymore. But in the past few years, with the changing commodity markets and farmers taking a closer look at their farming systems, we’ve been able to source more oats locally—a company goal for Grain Millers.

American oats are typically higher in beta-glucans, the heart-healthy component. And, because fewer acres of barley and wheat are grown in Iowa and Minnesota than in Canada, there is less chance for cross contamination from a gluten-free standpoint. There is still work to do, however, as oats produced in the Midwest don’t currently mill as well at their Canadian counterparts. But with South Dakota State University and the University of Wisconsin hiring oat breeders recently, we expect that to change.

We’ve been working with Practical Farmers of Iowa, and companies like Albert Lea Seed and General Mills, to develop a market for oats that may not qualify as food grade. Our goal is to get more oats in swine, cattle and poultry diets.

We’re committed to helping farmers produce high-quality, food-grade oats. We have two agronomists on staff specifically to answer questions about oat production. Practical Farmers and Albert Lea Seed are also great oat resources.

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