TIME magazine could have chosen to put any number of rural Americans on its November 6, 1978, cover. But in the end, it went with Minnesota’s Pat Benedict. Benedict, a sugar beet and wheat grower from Sabin, just south of Moorhead, embodied nearly every farming trend that TIME was hoping to highlight in its article. His 3,500-acre farming operation and $3.5 million in assets were large enough to place him firmly among the country’s growing ranks of large-scale farmers. His financial involvement in the processing of sugar beets—and his prominent roll in turning American Crystal Sugar into a farmer-owned cooperative—made him a symbol of vertical integration in agriculture. His heavy investments in the latest farming technology were typical of a new generation of farmers obsessed with squeezing every possible efficiency out of their small-profit-margin operations. Benedict’s farming operation continued to thrive into the new millennium, with three of his sons joining him in the business. Pat Benedict died in an auto accident in 2010.
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