As we get busy in the fields I would like to remind everyone to be careful out there. Years ago I did EMT training, and I hope I don’t need to use it. But being prepared and thinking ahead go a long way toward safety and good outcomes.
This week I am seeding next to a freeway, and as I bounce along counting the trucks speed by on the highway, safety numbers come to mind. In the time spent in that field, enough trucks will go by that the numbers say one of those trucks will be involved in a fatal accident within a year. At Easter, I did visit with a friend that said because of the rail situation a year ago UPS added 200 trucks. And now in June, 75 trucks a day will be added to metro traffic with the closure of the upper Saint Anthony lock. I don’t think we are coming up with the right answers; safety first needs to be more important in transportation.
The United States is considered a consuming society, with a majority of the economy based on consumption and services (moving dollars around). Agriculture is not the biggest portion dollar wise in the economy but its role is huge (growing new dollars). To make this happen, transportation is key. This comes on the backs of an aging infrastructure. Again I will take a poke at defense spending and ask, “Does it make sense to run around saving the world when we are starting to have trouble moving around at home?”
When I speak of transportation I consider it to be a system where what happens in one mode affects other modes. For agriculture, my bias is for waterway movement of goods, partially because of its great safety record. Waterways are also efficient and sustainable.
The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association works closely with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council. Part of our working together is built through being on teams with other farmers made up of both MSGA directors and MSR&PC directors. These teams are set up across the priority areas of the MSR&PC, with the chair of each team being an MSR&PC director. Our goal is to make recommendations to the Council on how to best invest soybean checkoff dollars on behalf of Minnesota soybean farmers. Sound confusing? Don’t worry; to most outside of the USDA, this is confusing. But that’s a subject for another post.
So why do I tell you about the unique relationship between the MSGA and the MSR&PC? I want you to understand that unlike MSGA funds, the soybean checkoff can’t be spent on policy or lobbying. The soybean checkoff can be used to educate farmers and non-farmers about soybeans. Recently, the MSR&PC helped Waterway Council Inc. develop an educational, 30-second commercial with a great agriculture message. This is an out of the box approach that will be aired further into the box of the Washington D.C. area. You can view the WCI commercial below.
In a future post I will dissect waterways and the long process of trying to improve itself.
In closing be careful out there and safety first!
Paul Freeman is a soybean farmer from Starbuck. He is Vice President of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and is the chair of the Advocacy action team, which is made up of 12 MSGA directors. Paul can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.