Former Land O’Lakes president, CEO Ralph Hofstad dies at age 90

During his 15 years at the helm, Hofstad oversaw many big changes

Ralph Hofstad, former Land O’Lakes president and CEO, died August 25 at age 90.

Hofstad led Land O’Lakes for 15 years, from 1974 to 1989. During that time, the cooperative tripled its revenue and merged with Midland Cooperatives and Lake to Lake Dairy Cooperative, according to a report. It also underwent a joint venture with Cenex.

Hofstad also served as executive director of the Russian Community Farm Project, whose mission was to help Russian farmers transition from giant Soviet collectives to smaller family-run farms.

In 1992, Hofstad was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame.

According to his obituary, Hofstad was born Nov. 13, 1923, in Philadelphia, the son of Amelia and Ottar Hofstad, a minister in the United Methodist Church.

Ralph Hofstad attended Hamline University in St. Paul before enrolling in the Navy, serving from July 1943 to July 1946. He married his wife, Adeline, in 1947 and graduated from Northwestern University in 1948.

In 1948, he began his career at Illinois Farm Supply Co. By 1965 he had risen to president of Farmers Regional Cooperative of Iowa (FELCO), and in 1970 he helped engineer the merger between FELCO and Land O’Lakes.

He became senior vice president of ag supplies and services of Land O’Lakes after the merger, and eventually CEO. Hofstad was CEO when Land O’Lakes established its international development division in 1981.

Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, said: “Ralph made many of the transformational and strategic decisions that helped Land O’Lakes grow, and established the foundation for the Fortune 200 food and agribusiness company that we have become today.”

Hofstad is survived by his wife and their six children, Diane, Barb, Jim, Ron, Tom and Sue; 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 4 at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.