Farmer directors from both the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) arrived in San Antonio this week to visit with fellow producers from across the U.S., network and set forth 2020 resolutions to kick-off the annual Commodity Classic. Throughout the week, the American Soybean Association (ASA) will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. “As you guy know, this grassroots part of it is key, and Minnesota’s always been at the forefront,”
“It’s great to be here to see old friends from Minnesota and across the country, and make new ones, too,” said ASA President and Minnesota farmer Bill Gordon.
Trade issues, the impact of the coronavirus, regulation and water quality figured to be hot topics throughout the convention, says MSGA Director Bob Worth, who regularly attends Commodity Classic.
“We’ll be talking a lot of trade all the time until we get these issues figured out,” Worth said. “Our prices aren’t very good right now, and this virus is creating havoc around the world.”
Preparing for the NCTC
MSR&PC joins the North Dakota Soybean Council and South Dakota Soybean in its investment in Northern Soy Marketing (NSM) to highlight the quality of northern-grown soybeans. The NSM board gathered in San Antonio to convene their first meeting of 2020. Topping the agenda was the upcoming inaugural Northern Commodity Transportation Conference, debuting March 11-12 in Bloomington, Minn. NSM is a co-sponsor of the NCTC.
“We’re very excited about the NCTC and feel there’s going to be a lot of dynamic conversation about the transportation issues we face,” says MSR&PC CEO Tom Slunecka. “This NSM team really took the lead in conceiving this conference, and we look forward to this becoming an annual event.”
Wednesday afternoon, MSGA’s delegation met with North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and New York delegates to finalize resolutions during a caucus meeting. On Saturday, ASA and their state affiliates will hold their voting delegate session.
During the caucus session, Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce spoke with farmers about the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and the ARC/PLC program. Farmers must apply for ARC/PLC by March 15. Fordyce, a former United Soybean Board director, asked farmers to thank their local FSA officials.
“Nothing happens without our county offices,” he said.
He was followed by an appearance from National Biodiesel Board Donnell Rehagen, who extended his gratitude to farmers.
“Our advocates are the very reason why we’re here,” Rehagen said. “We’ve grown a lot over the years, but we owe our very existence to soybean farmers, and we want the soybean industry to be plugged into what we’re doing.
Rehagen outlined NBB’s plan to double the nation’s production of biodiesel during this decade, from the current 3 billion gallons per-year rate to 6 billion by 2030. He believes the industry can achieve this goal by fulfilling a growing demand for biodiesel in California as well as from the heating and oil industry.
“(6 billion) certainly isn’t a stretch on the demand side,” Rehagan said.
The days ahead
The trade show floor, packed with vendors and commodity groups from across the country, opened late Thursday morning. On Friday, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue will once again deliver the Commodity Classic keynote address. During the General Session, the audience will also hear an inspiring presentation from Lt. Col. Waldo Waldman, a decorated fighter pilot and New York Times bestselling author.
On Friday night, MSR&PC will honor Gordon, the sixth Minnesota farmer to serve as ASA president, during a reception alongside USB Chair Jim Carroll.
“Many of us in the Minnesota agriculture community have known Bill for years, and are proud to call him a friend,” said MSR&PC Chair Cole Trebesch. “We’re excited to watch him rise to the top of ASA, and we’re looking forward to celebrating Bill’s presidency at Commodity Classic.”