Around the Counties: Meeting Season Concludes with Speakers, Donations

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association has 45 organized county organizations. Each of these counties has events throughout the year to help promote and educate farmers and non-farmers about soybeans. For an organization to be truly grassroots, it needs the help of many. Organized MSGA counties provide a true boots-on-the-ground approach. The efforts of these counties are truly remarkable.  Around the Counties highlights some of the many things our county boards are involved in throughout the year.

Mower –  David Okerlund of Storm Lake, Iowa, was the guest speaker at the Mower County Corn & Soybean Growers Annual Meeting on March 16 in Adams, Minn. Okerlund provided a comedic and inspiring message about choosing a positive attitude when faced with challenging obstacles. The growers in attendance also heard updates from local organizations including the FSA office and Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Aaron Gamm, Mower County SWCD technician, told farmers 94.4 percent of land in Mower County was compliant with current buffer legislation and farmers should not hesitate to contact his office with questions.

Todd County Corn and Soybean Annual Meeting

Todd– On March 15, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association welcomed it’s 45th recognized county organization at the Todd County Corn & Soybean Grower’s Annual Meeting. After just over a year of work to build membership, Todd County growers reached the 30 member benchmark and now look forward to being a part of the state organization while continuing to build a presence in Todd County. Also at the meeting, Warren Formo of the Minnesota Agriculture Water Resource Center (MAWRC) spoke about current water issues in Minnesota and fielded questions about nitrate well-testing in rural areas. The Todd County board recognized a local FFA chapter for their help and assistance in the county plot.

OtterTail/Grant– Farmers of Otter Tail and Grant counties gather on March 29 to host their annual meeting in Fergus Falls, Minn. More than 40 growers came and learned about the Otter Tail/Grant events that have kept them busy. Radio advertisements, hosting county plots and attending local agriculture trade shows are only a few of the things the counties are involved with. Bret Oelke, retired University of Minnesota extension educator and current President of Innovus Agra, was the guest speaker and discussed the current grain markets. He provided some strategies and tips for marketing grain with tight margins.

Pope – The Pope County Corn and Soybean Growers had a record crowd at their annual meeting held on April 1 in Minnewaska. More than 130 growers with their families heard from a number of honored guests including Pope County native and MSGA President Paul Freeman; local representatives Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Minn. and Sen. Torrey Westrom R-Minn.; along with Katie Pinke as the featured speaker of the evening. Pinke talked about everyone’s place at the table when it comes to sharing agriculture’s story and the importance of talking to people about why growers farm the way they do.  Earlier that same afternoon, Pinke, along with growers, held an assembly at a local school where Pinke spoke about being proud of agriculture and highlighted the many opportunities agriculture has for young people.

Lincoln– Everyday, we see a larger and larger gap between the farmers who grow the food and the people who consume it. On March 19, Lincoln County hosted an Ag Gala event in hopes to focus on the gap in their local community. At the event, commodity groups such as soybean, corn, dairy, turkey, pork and beef were represented and each had a station where attendees could try different food samples that represented their industry. Attendees also had a chance to ask local farmers questions. Eighty people were in attendance. To end the evening, agriculture advocate Amanda Radke spoke to the group.

Cottonwood– Cottonwood Corn and Soybean Growers held their annual meeting on March 24 in Bingham Lake. The organization brought members up to speed on an Ag Appreciation Night they will be hosting in partnership with other Cottonwood County Ag groups. The event will be open to everyone in the county to attend in July. Bruce Potter was the guest speaker who touched on the new research that extension is doing, while focusing on soybeans and conservation practices.

Nobles– Community members all over Nobles County came to pack the gym at the American Reformed Church on Monday, March 28, with over 210 people in attendance. Nobles County Corn and Soybean Growers gave a $1,000 donation to both food pantries in Nobles County. They also awarded Nobles County 4-H with the ‘Friend of Nobles County Corn and Soybean Growers Award’. To end the evening, Market-to-Market Mike Pearson gave an ag outlook for the year in both crop and livestock sectors.

Bill Craig presents the classroom with soybean-focused school supplies.

Marshall – The Marshall County Soybean and Corn Growers Association is supporting their county’s schools and promoting the use of soybean and corn products at the same time. The growers have donated color books, rulers, pencils, crayons and more to the elementary schools of Argyle, Grygla, Newfolden, Viking, Middle River and Warren-Alvarado-Oslo.

“This is one way to both support our local schools that are a vital part of community and promote the use of clean, renewable and homegrown ethanol and biodiesel products at the same time,” said Bill Craig, president of the Marshall County Soybean and Corn Growers.

Becker-Mahomen– Sen. Amy Klobuchar was in Callaway the morning of the Becker-Mahomen Corn and Soybean annual meeting to meet with the Callaway Fire Department crew and to be updated on the train/truck accident that took place in the town a week prior.

Klobuchar  stopped by after to visit with the growers.  She updated the group on legislative issues such as the GMO labeling standard, potential exports of sugar and other Ag related issues at the Capitol.

Roseau-Lake of the Woods– In an effort to reward students pursing a college education in agriculture, the Roseau/Lake of the Woods Soybean Growers Association has awarded five students in Roseau and Lake of the Woods counties.

The following individuals were chosen as scholarship winners: Cody Kirkeide, Conner Millner, Aaron Olafson, Katelynn Robertson and Brandon Waage.

Blue Earth – The Community Center in Pemberton, Minn., was nearly full when the Blue Earth County Corn and Soybean Growers held their annual meeting and banquet on March 29.  Kit Welchlin was the keynote speaker. Welchlin, originally from Watonwan county, presented “Generational Communication and Working with Difficult People.” Welchin’s topic was applicable to the farm families and sponsors in attendance.

Also in Blue Earth County, with March designated as Food Shelf Month, the Blue Earth County Corn and Soybean Growers conducted a food drive in conjunction with their annual meeting and banquet last month.  Non-perishable food items collected, along with a check for over $500 dollars, was recently delivered to the Echo Food Shelf in Mankato by county board chairman Earl Ziegler.

Murray – A renovated barn near Currie, Minn., was the ideal venue to host the annual meeting and banquet of the Murray County Corn and Soybean Growers on March 31. Over 160 area corn and soybean growers, area businesses and sponsors attended. Mike Pearson, television host of Market-to-Market delivered the keynote address.

Also earlier this month, the Murray County Corn and Soybean Growers hosted an informational buffer meeting in Slayton, Minn.  Minnesota Soybean Director of Public Affairs, Joe Smentek, provided an overview of the current buffer law before the state legislature and what the bill might mean for Minnesota farmers.

Murray County Corn and Soybean Growers also made the decision to provide Ag in the Classroom book bundles to every school in Murray County.  Each bundle included ten books targeted to a specific student grade range – K-2 and 3-5.  These fiction and nonfiction books focus on a wide variety of topics that represent agricultural plants and animals, food and natural resources.  A total of 20 book bundles were distributed.

In addition, the Murray County Food Shelf recently received a $500 check from the Murray County Corn and Soybean Growers.  Funds collected through February 22 were matched by the Minnesota Masonic Charities for the Food Shelf. Brent Miller, county board chair, delivered the check on behalf of the group.

Scott/LeSueur– The Scott/LeSueur Corn and Soybean Growers held their annual meeting recently after participants of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) class returned from Vietnam. Amber Hanson, Minnesota Farm Bureau associate director of public policy, and Anna Boroff, Minnesota Corn senior public policy director were the guest speakers as they both participated in the trip to Vietnam. Hanson and Boroff gave an overview of the MARL program and the trip to Vietnam

Dodge – Dodge County Corn and Soybean Growers held their annual meeting on March 18. The group organized a tour of AL Corn before the meeting. Amanda Radke was also the featured speaker. Radke spoke on how to connect farmers with consumers and explained how numerous values are shared between both groups.

Nicollet/Sibley– The Nicollet/Sibley Corn and Soybean Growers hosted their annual meeting with guest speaker Chuck Retka, a Le Sueur farmer who had recently been on the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) See for Yourself mission to Vietnam. Retka gave an overview of the trip while explaining to local farmers the importance of using checkoff dollars overseas.

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