When it comes to the impact of biodiesel and the soybean industry on rural and urban Minnesota, seeing is believing.
Three metro area legislators made their way to the Minnesota Soybean Processors (MnSP) plant in Brewster, Minn., to get a hands-on look at what biodiesel and the soybean industry is all about.
Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-43B), Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL-67B), and Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-52B) joined MnSP Plant Manager Scott Austin, MnSP President Bruce Hill, Minnesota biodiesel lobbyist Andrew (A.J.) Duerr, and several Minnesota Soybean staff for a tour of the soybean processing and biodiesel plant.
“Sometimes biodiesel is thought of as a rural issue because of the strong support from the agriculture community,” Duerr says. “Thankfully leaders from rural, urban and suburban areas realize that the economic and environmental benefits from biodiesel are statewide. It is important to maintain and build on that support by inviting policy makers to see our process firsthand.”
The three politicians were able to ask questions about the impact biodiesel has on areas they work closely with at the Capitol, including water, transportation, job growth and capital investment.
Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-22B) who is known for his agriculture-friendly voice and support, also joined the group later in the day to visit the plant.
Hamilton asked Austin, “What can we do at the state level to help this industry become more successful?”
Austin explained the barriers he sees, both within the soybean industry and his plant. This included areas like exporting abilities, employee wages and not understanding in its entirety certain policies, like the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The legislators ended their tour by visiting a local farmer and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director Chris Hill. Hill showed them his equipment and grain storage bins, where he explained the importance of technology and efficiency to his farm. He also gave them an opportunity to ride in the combine as he harvested soybeans.