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$1 Million Gift to The Hormel Institute

For Immediate Release


Nora Nolden, Communications Consultant

[email protected] or (651) 245-6804



Compeer Financial Pledges $1 Million Gift to The Hormel Institute

73,000-member agriculture financial cooperative establishes Farm to Wellness Research Fund


Austin, Minn., (July 12, 2023)  Compeer Financial, a Farm Credit cooperative based in the Upper Midwest, announced a $1 million commitment to The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, establishing a new research fund and laboratory focused on the critically important connections between the foods we eat and disease prevention and promotion of human health.

“This gift establishes the Farm to Wellness Research Fund, which will pave the way to support groundbreaking studies on the connections between agriculture, nutrition and disease prevention,” said Jase Wagner, CEO of Compeer Financial. “We recognize the impact of this research will extend far beyond our organizations. It will benefit the broader agricultural industry and the rural communities we serve.”  

The Farm to Wellness Research Fund will support Hormel Institute research focused on agricultural commodities produced in the Upper Midwest and their role in preventing cancer and other diseases. While Compeer Financial is the founding contributor, the fund will be looking for more partners in the future. 

“We extend an open invitation to other leaders, organizations and companies to join us in providing financial support for this transformative endeavor,” said Wagner. “Together, we can make a profound impact and advance the health and well-being of all.”

This partnership represents years of interaction between Compeer Financial and The Hormel Institute’s cancer and cancer prevention research. John Monson, Compeer’s Chief Mission Officer, identified the important synergies and has helped facilitate Compeer’s growing support since 2012.

“When I first came across The Hormel Institute and its research on foods that can prevent and control cancer, the strong connection between our organizations and what we could achieve was clear,” said Monson. “Thanks to our member-owners, we can now support the important work of The Hormel Institute’s food scientists in a major way.”

The $1 million legacy gift comes from Compeer Financial’s donor-advised fund, the Agriculture and Rural Initiative, created through their corporate giving program, the Fund for Rural America. The commitment also establishes the Compeer Financial Research Lab at the Hormel Institute. 

The Institute’s growing Food Science research unit is focused on the critical connections between foods we eat and the human body - leading to disease prevention and control.

Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, Assistant Director for Faculty Affairs, Professor of Food Science and Nutrition and Women’s Health section leader focuses on research involving the role of dietary factors affecting breast cancer risk and mortality. She investigates intakes at different points of the life cycle of various dietary factors, including plant chemicals, vitamin D and obesity on the microbiota and immune cells.

“We are extremely thankful to Compeer Financial for this legacy gift continuing their faithful, generous support and vision supporting research that is so critical and underfunded,” said Hilakivi-Clarke. “The first research project done with these funds will determine how soy foods and milk consumption in adolescent girls will cut later breast cancer risk by up to 50 percent.”

The Hormel Institute recently added another food science section leader, Dr. Annie Lin, who earned her PhD in Nutrition from Cornell University and joined the Institute in June from Northwestern University in Chicago. 

The Hormel Institute established itself as a leader in health and nutrition research with milestones such as former executive director Ralph Holman’s naming and research of omega-3 fatty acid present in fish and other seafood as well as plant-derived oil. Dr. Holman’s discoveries gained worldwide recognition with his being made a member of the National Academy of Sciences in Nutrition. The Academy is considered one of the highest honors a scientist can achieve.

Hormel Foods’ and The Hormel Foundation’s Jay C. Hormel founded The Hormel Institute in 1942 initially to perform food science research, as an Austin-based unit that is part of the University of Minnesota. Over 80 plus years it has developed into a state-of-the-art biomedical research center, focusing on the prevention and control of cancer and other chronic diseases.

About The Hormel Institute
 The Hormel Institute is an independent biomedical research department within the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research. Collaborative research partners include Masonic Cancer Center UMN (a Comprehensive Cancer Center as designated by the National Cancer Institute, NIH), Mayo Clinic, and many other leading research centers worldwide. The Hormel Institute, which tripled in size in 2008 and doubled again in size in 2016, is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge research technologies and expert scientists. Over the next few years, The Hormel Institute will broaden its impact through innovative, world-class research in its quest to improve human health.

About the Fund for Rural America
The Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America is the corporate giving program of Compeer Financial, structured to support Compeer Financial’s mission to enrich agriculture and rural America. Compeer Financial’s Board of Directors has dedicated one percent of annual net earnings to support the Fund’s focus areas of agricultural advocacy and development, agriculture education, cooperative initiatives, rural development and community enrichment; and youth engagement. The Fund is managed by a Board of Trustees, made up of team members from Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin and members of the Compeer Financial Board of Directors. More information about opportunities available through the Fund can be found at

About Compeer Financial

Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $30 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.

Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial.





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