A Facebook conversation gone awry has led to the resignation of Dennis Haugen of Hannaford as president of the North Dakota Grain Growers.
Haugen resigned from both his leadership position and the board after an exchange with a Facebook friend turned vulgar and was reposted to the NDGGA’s Facebook page.
The exchange occurred on July 31, and appears to no longer be viewable on Facebook to the general public. According to a copy of the post printed by Ag Week, the profanity-laced post was in response to a person identified as Jaime Anthrope.
“This is what someone thought was okay to say to me in response to my post about having anxiety problems. Completely unprovoked,” Anthrope wrote, adding, “Thanks Dennis, you’re a real f---- — peach.”
In his response to Anthrope, Haugen said, “Your parents should be b-- — slapped for raising a PO-. … Jesus what a f---- — crybaby liberal … I was a fan of yours when you were fighting the anti science battles. But that party is over .. obviously .. pretty thankful my kids are college grads, working for a living and perusing the American dream …. Unfriend me, or stay tuned for success stories.. Cheers … “ followed by a series of U.S. flags.
The post was subsequently reposted by someone identified as Nick Salk on NDGGA’s Facebook page with the query:
“Hey, does your organization know how your president talks to people publicly?”
NDGGA called a special meeting by Zoom to discuss the issue, then discussed it with Haugen. Anthony Chaput, spokesperson for the group, said the board and Haugen decided it would be in the best interest of the organization if Haugen stepped down.
“NDGGA is a non-partisan organization that represents all North Dakota farmers and promotes policies based on positive impact, not party interests,” a media release from the group said. “We remain committed to providing this representation on both state and federal levels, and working to ensure production agriculture remains a profitable endeavor in our state.”
Haugen is one of 12 directors, elected by region, and had been on the board for three years. He will be succeeded by Tom Bernhardt of Linton, as president.
The group met Thursday night to reorganize and has named Ed Kessel, Dickinson, first vice president of the organization. Ryan Ellis, Williston, who was secretary-treasurer, is now second Vice President and Dean Knell is now the new secretary-treasurer.
“This is a very unfortunate situation with what happened with Dennis,” Bernhardt said. “If you worked with Dennis at all in the past, it is so out of character for him, so we are all sort of stunned he did that. He had the time, energy, and the knowledge to dedicate to the grain growers, so it is a loss, but at the same time, we obviously cannot condone that.”
Bernhardt said the organization will continue to focus on its positive mission, such as ongoing funding for the agriculture products development center, and other issue-related efforts, such as a push to improve the quality loss in the malting barley endorsement and extend haying and grazing of cover crops to more counties in North Dakota prior to November 1.
Haugen has been a longtime, “steadfast” advocate for North Dakota agriculture over the years, NDGGA’s media release notes.
In June, the Environmental Protection Agency appointed Haugen to serve on the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee, which provides independent policy advice, information and recommendations to the EPA’s administrator on a range of environmental and policy issues of importance to agriculture and rural communities.
“We hope his present actions will not overshadow his past achievements,” NDGGA said. “However, NDGGA cannot condone aggressive or politically biased comments made online or otherwise.”